Northern Ireland news

Leo Varadkar says UK bid for better Brexit deal a 'terrible miscalculation'

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Picture by Brian Lawless/PA

LEO Varadkar has said some MPs' belief that they can get a better Brexit deal is a "terrible political miscalculation".

The taoiseach was also critical of how the British government has approached negotiations on the UK's withdrawal from the European Union.

It comes as many Tory leadership contenders press for changes to the Brexit deal in their bids to become the next British prime minister.

The Brexit deadline was pushed back to October after MPs rejected outgoing prime minister Theresa May's proposed withdrawal agreement three times.

Speaking in the Dáil yesterday, Mr Varadkar said many thought Ireland would "fall into line" and leave the EU too, but "we didn't and we are not".

"And some thought that when push came to shove that Ireland would be abandoned, that EU unity would break, and they were wrong about that," he said.

Mr Varadkar said Mrs May was "not a bad negotiator", and the Brexit deal is a "finely balanced compromise" that took two years of discussions.

"I am a little bit concerned that some people in London seem to think that because the House of Commons failed to ratify that agreement that automatically means they are going to get a better one," he added.

"That is a terrible political miscalculation. I hope that is not the one that is being made across the water."

Mrs May stood down as Conservative leader last week, but will remain prime minister until her successor is chosen.

Most Tory leadership contenders are proposing changes to the Brexit backstop – the much-disputed arrangement aimed at guaranteeing no hard border in Ireland if no alternative plan is agreed between the UK and European Union.

However, the EU has insisted it will not reopen the proposed withdrawal agreement negotiated with Mrs May.

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