Brexit

Varadkar: Britain will not secure EU free-trade deal without Irish backstop

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar
By Michael McHugh, PA

Britain will not secure a free trade deal with the EU without the Irish border backstop, the taoiseach has said.

Leo Varadkar warned new British prime minister Boris Johnson that the position of Dublin and the EU had not changed.

He reiterated his government's support for the draft withdrawal agreement, which was intended to pave the way for more discussions on a permanent trade arrangement.

"The position of the European Union and the position of Ireland has not changed," Mr Varadkar said.

"The backstop is an integral part of the Withdrawal Agreement. Without the backstop there is no withdrawal agreement, there is no transition phase, there is no implementation phase and there will be no free trade agreement until all those matters are resolved.

"So I hope that the new UK prime minister has not chosen no deal, but that will be up to them."

Mr Varadkar and Mr Johnson are expected to meet soon.

The taoiseach and other ministers held a meeting in Glencolumbcille, Co Donegal, on Thursday.

The backstop would entail Northern Ireland remaining aligned to the EU's regulations after Brexit.

The DUP and Tory Brexiteers blocked ratification of the withdrawal agreement by Westminster earlier this year over their concerns the measure could threaten the integrity of the UK.

The DUP wants a time limit to be put on the backstop, a provision rejected by the Republic as rendering it meaningless.

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