Varadkar: NI needs to be treated differently than rest of UK in no-deal Brexit

Special arrangements to avoid the reemergence of a hard border in a no-deal Brexit scenario would involve treating Northern Ireland differently than the rest of the UK, the Irish premier has said.

Leo Varadkar said some commentary in Britain was suggesting that special arrangements would solve all concerns Ireland had over the border.

Some reports indicated that the Irish Government had accepted technology could be used to avoid a hard border in the event of a no-deal.

But Mr Varadkar told the Dail parliament in Dublin: “Let there be no doubt in this house or in Westminster that when I talk about special arrangements I mean treating Northern Ireland differently from the rest of the UK.

“It is the UK Government’s proposal to do exactly that. Not in four or five years’ time if the backstop ever has to be implemented but in a few weeks’ time in the event of a no-deal.”

Asked about the European Parliament’s decision to end daylight savings time from April 2021, Mr Varadkar said he would not want a situation to arise where Northern Ireland was in a different time zone to the rest of Ireland.

“I could not and certainly would not want to countenance a situation whereby Northern Ireland is in a different time zone to the rest of Ireland,” he said.

Irish Labour Party leader Brendan Howlin raised the matter in the Dail on Wednesday, highlighting that Ireland could be left in a difficult position with the UK leaving the EU.

“There is the possibility of having two different time zones on the island of Ireland as the UK have already declared that they don’t intend to switch their current system,” he said.

Mr Varadkar said the Government had not yet decided how it would vote on the matter when it is put to the European Council.

“The truth is the Government hasn’t taken a position on it yet nor have we discussed it. I’d very much like to know the views of the house on this matter,” he said.

Mr Varadkar added: “It wouldn’t kick in until April 2021 so we’ve plenty of time to make this decision, no pun intended.”

EU states will be able to decide whether they want to end the annual ritual of changing the clocks in the spring and autumn.

But if the UK leaves the EU it may not have to adhere to the changes.

There are concerns that if it did not, Northern Ireland could find itself in a different time zone from the Republic for six months of the year.

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