Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said a coalition between his center-right Fine Gael party and left-wing nationalists Sinn Fein is not an option as the parties’ policies are “not compatible”. (Image: archive)
“For us coalition with Sinn Fein is not an option, but we are willing to talk to other parties,” Varadkar told journalists in Dublin, speaking following Saturday’s election. The head of rival center-right party Fianna Fail earlier on February 9 declined to rule out a coalition with Sinn Fein.
A new free-trade deal between the UK and the European Union by the end of 2020 is possible if it does not deviate significantly from current trading terms, Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said.
“In terms of negotiating a trade agreement before December 2020, I think that is difficult but not impossible” if Britain ratifies its EU withdrawal agreement by its current Jan. 31 deadline, Varadkar told press in Dublin, Reuters news agency reports.
“The more like the status quo, the quicker it will be,” Varadkar said, but added that ratification by 27 member states may not be possible by the end of 2020, the scheduled end of a proposed Brexit transition phase.
Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar reiterated that the European Union will not reopen the talks on Withdrawal agreement it has concluded with the UK, neither will it remove the Northern Ireland border “backstop” clause. (Image: archive).
“Anything a (new) British prime minister has to say in relation to resolving the Brexit impasse will get a fair hearing from me and from everyone in the European Union,” Varadkar said at a news conference at a meeting of the British-Irish Council in Manchester, on June 28.
“At the same time, it needs to be understood that we mean what we say, and that is that the withdrawal agreement won’t be reopened, without a backstop there will be no transition period but we are willing to examine the joint political declaration and make amendments to that enables us to proceed to an orderly Brexit with a guarantee that there will be no hard border,” he underlined.
Prime Minister of the Republic of Ireland Leo Varadkar said he believes the European Union will strike a deal with Britain to smooth its exit from the bloc, even as Dublin continues its preparations for all outcomes, including a no deal.
“As things stand, the UK will leave the EU on March 29, six weeks from now, with or without an agreement. I believe we will strike a deal,” Varadkar said in a speech on January 13.
Meanwhile the European Commission press person said Britain has not requested a Brexit delay and that any such extension of negotiating time before the divorce could not be open-ended but leading to a concrete result.
During a regular news midday briefing in Brussels, Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas explained an extension of the Article 50 exit process, should be approved unanimously by all the other 27 EU member states to be granted.
However Schinas underlined that such a request of extension of the deadline has not been received yet.
The EU top negotiator Michel Barnier made a remark on his determination to keep Brexit transparent.
British Prime Minister Theresa May intends to seal a bilateral treaty with the Irish government as a tool to remove the so-called “backstop” arrangement from Article 50 deal with the European Union, according to media reports.
May thought a deal with Ireland would remove the opposition to her Brexit plan from the Democratic Unionist Party that supports her minority government and from discontent pro hard Brexit MPs in Conservative Party, the Sunday Times reported.
The chances of sealing a deal on the UK withdrawal from the European Union this month are receding, Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said, and the EU’s Brexit negotiator called on Britain to make decisive choices.
The UK and the EU agreed to include a guarantee clause — dabbed as a “backstop” — in the Article 50 Agreement. But the EU’s proposal for how the backstop would work essentially means a border between Northern Ireland and mainland Britain. That was unacceptable to Britain.
London made its own proposal to maintain the whole of the UK in a Customs union as a temporary measure. The EU declines to accept it.
Brexit has undermined the Good Friday Agreement which ended thirty years of violence in Northern Ireland, Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said.
“Brexit has undermined the Good Friday Agreement and is fraying the relationship between Britain and Ireland,” he told Irish state broadcaster RTE.
The border between Ireland and Northern Ireland after Brexit, becoming the land border between the EU and the UK, has been one of the major challenges in Article 50 negotiations, expected to be concluded with a deal regulating the border functioning from the end of March next year onward.
“Anything that pulls the communities apart in Northern Ireland undermines the Good Friday Agreement, and anything that pulls Britain and Ireland apart undermines that relationship,” Varadkar added.
In spite of the absence of a proposal by any political party to establish conventional border structure dividing the island of Ireland, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has considered necessary to give European leaders his warning of related risks of returning to a hard border.
Speaking at a press conference while concluding Brexit Summit in Brussels Mr Varadkar said he decided to make clear that the Irish Government was not exaggerating its concerns about the consequences of a no deal for Northern Ireland and the erection of a border.
Taoiseach described his vision using recent Irish Times, which reminded of the bombing of a customs post in 1972 and which Mr Varadkar showed to European leaders at dinner, as “a useful prop to demonstrate to all the European leaders the extent to which the concerns about the re-emergence of a hard border and the possibility of a return to violence are very real”.
“I just wanted to make sure that there was no sense in the room that in any way anyone in the Irish Government was exaggerating the real risk of a return to violence in Ireland,” Mr Varadkar said.
Laying out his vision for the future of Europe, the Taoiseach highlighted the need to improve democracy in the EU through EU-wide voting lists, completing the Economic and Monetary Union and ensuring that big corporations pay their fair share of tax. In the month marking 45 years of Irish membership of the EU, he also expressed his gratitude to MEPs for their support and solidarity in the Brexit negotiations, stressing the importance of ensuring that what has been promised in theory is delivered in practice.
The European Parliament was the first EU institution to initiate this reflection on the future of Europe. At the start of 2017, it voted proposals encouraging broad reflection, both within and beyond the Lisbon Treaty framework, and taking the lead in rethinking the European Union to make it respond better to citizens’ concerns.
The Brexit transition period of around two years revealed in EU draft guidelines on Friday is a “decent amount of time” but a longer period could be needed to ratify a future trade deal, Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said.
“Two years is a decent amount of time, we would be happy for it to be longer but we’re also comfortable with two years,” Varadkar told a news conference after hailing Friday’s agreement on the Irish border as “a very significant day” for the whole of the island.
“I would add one word of caution to having a transition phase of two years, obviously what we’re going to want to do is negotiate new treaties between the UK and EU. It can take many years to negotiate treaties and how long the transition phase should be, in my view, must be linked to how long it will take us to secure ratification of those treaties.”