British government's Brexit stance creating 'huge difficulties', Leo Varadkar says
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said the position of the British Government on Brexit is causing "great difficulty" in reaching a deal.
Mr Varadkar was addressing questions about a series of anonymous briefings from within Downing Street.
Sources from within Number 10 claimed this week that the European Union was making it "essentially impossible" for Britain to leave with a formal agreement.
Mr Varadkar is expected to meet Prime Minister Boris Johnson for further Brexit talks later this week.
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Speaking in the Dáil earlier today, the Taoiseach said: "Part of the difficulty at the moment though is the position of the UK Government is that Northern Ireland must leave the EU Customs Union and must be part of the UK Customs Union no matter what the people of Northern Ireland think.
"That's their position at the moment and that's one that is a great difficulty for us because the position of the British Government is that the UK must leave the European Union and Northern Ireland must come out of the customs union, whether they like it or not.
"That creates huge difficulties for us because we want there to be a deal that respects the wishes of the people of Northern Ireland, and indeed the people in this Republic too."
Mr Varadkar added: "To be honest, I don't want to give much response to anonymous briefings of that nature.
"I don't think much of an anonymous briefing whether they come from Downing Street or if they come from my own ranks, quite frankly.
"There hasn't been any change to the EU negotiating position, we signed our guidelines to the council meetings and they haven't changed and they certainly cannot change until the (EU) Summit next week.
"As far as the Irish Government is concerned, we do want a deal, we're willing to work hard to get a deal, to work until the last moment to get a deal, but certainly not at any cost.
"We are absolutely open to proposals that will take into account the democratic wishes and the views of the people of Northern Ireland in relation to consent and relation to democracy.
"But we need to make sure that any such arrangements are workable. It is a sad fact that the Northern Ireland Assembly hasn't met for three years and has only met for about half the time that it's been in existence."