Taoiseach Leo Varadkar says Republic of Ireland would likely agree to Brexit extension request

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Niall Carson/PA Wire
Aoife Moore, Press Association

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said the Republic of Ireland would likely agree to a request by the UK for a Brexit extension.

Speaking in Denmark, moments after court documents revealed the British Prime Minister will ask for a delay if he fails to get a deal with Brussels for the UK's departure from the EU, Leo Varadkar said if Boris Johnson submits a request for an extension, he would agree.

"I've always said that Brexit doesn't end with the UK leaving, it's just the next phase of negotiations, but if the UK were to request and extension, we would consider it, most EU countries would only consider it for good reason, but an extension would be better than no deal," he said.

Mr Varadkar was speaking alongside the Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, who also agreed to a Brexit extension, before he added that he still believes a deal is possible at the EU Council Summit in mid-October.

"Our focus is on securing an agreement and getting a deal at the EU Council Summit," the Taoiseach added.

"I believe that's possible but in order for it to be possible all sides have to reaffirm the shared objectives, when this started two or three years ago, coming to an agreement required no hard border between Ireland, north and south, that the integrity of the Single Market of the European Union will be protected, and that the all-island economy will be protected.

"What we need to do is refocus on those objectives and come to an agreement by the middle of October, and I think that is possible."

When pressed on comments made by DUP leader Arlene Foster on Thursday, accusing the Irish government of trying to ride roughshod over unionism, Mr Varadkar said he didn't want a fight.

"On what I said yesterday, I don't think I said anything about the DUP, so I can't regret a comment I didn't make - what I can say is that I'm not interested in a quarrel with anyone," he said.

"I'm interested in solutions, any solution has to have the support of the people of Ireland and Northern Ireland. What's been put on the table by Mr Johnson is not supported by business or civil society in Northern Ireland, it's only supported by one political party, so there's a long way to go.

"Democracy matters, and any agreement that affects Ireland deeply has to have support from people on both parts of the island."

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