Varadkar: I raised extension of Brexit date with Theresa May

The Irish premier has said he raised the issue of extending the deadline for the UK leaving the EU with the British Prime Minister.

But Leo Varadkar said Theresa May made it clear that Brexit would go ahead on March 29 as planned.

The Taoiseach made the comments in the Dail parliament on Tuesday afternoon as the Irish Government ramps up its action plan for the event of the UK crashing out of the EU.

“I have raised the issue of Article 50 potentially being extended and the Prime Minister has made her position clear that she intends the UK will leave the EU on time on the date that they have set for it,” he told the Dail.

Mr Varadkar said the March 29 deadline was set in Britain for Britain, not imposed by the EU or Ireland.

“No deal is not a threat that Ireland is making or the European Union is making,” he said.

“No deal can be taken off the table by the United Kingdom at any time, either by revoking Article 50 or by seeking an extension of Article 50, and we’ll listen to any request that they make for that.”

He added that a no-deal Brexit would cause a “dilemma” for the UK and Ireland.


“The only solution that can assure that we do not see the emergence of a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland is an agreement on customs, on customs territory, call it what you will, and regulatory alignment between Northern Ireland and the European Union or perhaps the whole UK and the European Union. And that is what we’ve negotiated.

“I don’t think that we’ll get to anything very different to the agreement that we have now, the agreement that is on the table, even if that involves a period of uncertainty after 29 March.

“We’ll end up with an agreement not dissimilar to what we have now, which is why we should ratify it now.”

Mr Varadkar said the UK was seeking to explore alternative arrangements to the backstop but the Irish Government had yet to details.

“We’ve explained why the backstop with a time limit isn’t a backstop,” he said.

“As the Prime Minister eloquently explained herself when she was advocating for the backstop, an insurance policy that can be cancelled at the time when you most need it is not an insurance policy at all.”