Varadkar will accept new Brexit deal details, EU chief assures

The Irish premier will accept the proposed new elements of the Brexit deal, the EU Commission president has said.

Jean Claude Juncker indicated Ireland’s backing for the added documents as cabinet ministers in Dublin held emergency meetings to be briefed about the developments.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar spoke with Mr Juncker on the phone during a break from discussions with colleagues in Government Buildings.

Brexit
Fine Gael TD Simon Harris leaving Government Building in Dublin, after a Brexit emergency meeting (Tom Honan/PA)

In Strasbourg, Mr Juncker said: “I have spoken to the Taoiseach this evening who would be prepared to accept this solution in the interest of securing an overall deal”.

The series of documents, which are separate to the agreed withdrawal deal, are designed to provide added assurances to the UK that it will not be tied to the Irish border backstop indefinitely.

Mr Varadkar was due to fly to the United States on Monday evening for his annual St Patrick’s trip, but his plans were changed at the last minute to accommodate the unscheduled cabinet meeting.

Ministers had already met on Monday morning to discuss the unfolding Brexit situation. They were summoned again at short notice for an emergency gathering at 7pm.

That meeting adjourned at 8.30pm, with discussions recommencing around 11pm. The meeting broke up at around 11.40pm.

Earlier on Monday, Mr Varadkar had said any extension to the UK leaving the EU must have a purpose.

He said if the UK took the decision to extend Article 50 it must not lead to a rolling cliff-edge scenario.

“If there is going to be an extension, it has to be an extension with a purpose,” he said.

“Nobody across the European Union wants to see a rolling cliff-edge where tough decisions just get put off until the end of April, then to the end of May and then maybe till the end of July.”

He said the uncertainty around Brexit was already worrying Irish citizens, damaging business confidence and affecting the agriculture industry in particular.

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