Fianna Fail cannot be trusted on Brexit, Taoiseach claims

Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has claimed rival party Fianna Fail cannot be trusted on Brexit as one of its MEPs said he will vote against the Withdrawal Agreement.

Mr Varadkar launched Fine Gael’s General Election campaign in Combilift factory in the border constituency  of Co Monaghan on Wednesday alongside Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney.

Fine Gael are putting their role in securing a Brexit deal front and centre of their campaign strategy.

Mr Varadkar said he is concerned Fianna Fail MEP Billy Kelleher is going to vote against the EU’s Withdrawal Agreement with the UK.

Mr Kelleher has said he has fears the deal could erode the rights of Irish and EU citizens in Northern Ireland.

“I was really concerned to learn yesterday that Billy Kelleher, Fianna Fail’s only MEP in the European Parliament, has indicated that he’s going to vote against the Withdrawal Agreement,” Mr Varadkar said.

“It demonstrates to me that Fianna Fail can’t be trusted on the issue of Brexit and also, once again, Fianna Fail is internally divided on a critical issue.”

Mr Varadkar said he would call on Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin to explain why Mr Keller is the only MEP to vote against the Withdrawal Agreement.

“Thankfully Fianna Fail has not got much influence in Europe and, as a result, that Withdrawal Agreement will pass through the European Parliament,” he added.

Mr Varadkar said he would like to have a Fine Gael Government reinstated before a crucial EU summit at the end of March.

He highlighted Fine Gael’s experience of helping to steer the Brexit negotiations.

“Because of the UK self-imposed deadline, we have the risk of trade going off a cliff at the end of the year,” he said.

“We have the experience and the ability to secure that deal.

“As part of our new relationship with the UK, we want to make sure that we rebuild and reimagine our relationship with our nearest neighbour.”

Minister for Business Heather Humphreys reiterated that Brexit is only at “half-time” and said rival party Fianna Fail are not equipped to carry out the negotiations if elected.

Mr Varadkar will meet European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen on her first official visit to Dublin later on Wednesday.

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