Varadkar: EU must be open to new UK Brexit proposals

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said that it was in Ireland's interests to protect the European Union single market and there was no better alternative than the backstop.

The EU's Brexit negotiator, Mr Michel Barnier, said on Tuesday the EU was working with Ireland "on a unilateral basis in the event of a no-deal deal, to know where we can do these checks", but refused to elaborate further.

The bilateral meeting in Paris comes ahead of talks between Mr Varadkar and German Chancellor Angel Merkel, who is due to visit Dublin on Thursday.

They both said the integrity of the single market would need to be protected, but that the European Union would uphold commitments made to ensure the protection of the Good Friday Agreement.

Whether that alternative plan involved a snap election, a referendum or a customs union it was up to the United Kingdom to decide, he added.

"If the British Government refuse to follow through on that commitment that they have made well then, of course, we've to speak to the EU Commission about how we respond to that and that was always going to be left to the last number of weeks".

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Ireland will not countenance checks on its exports at European Union ports following any no-deal Brexit as a result of its plan to keep an open border with Northern Ireland, Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said on Tuesday.

Speaking ahead of talks with Varadkar, Macron noted that, "If the United Kingdom is not capable, nearly three years after the referendum, of coming forward with a solution that is supported by a majority, it will have effectively chosen a no-deal exit on its own".

The EU warned on Tuesday that Britain could be heading for a potentially disorderly no-deal exit in just 10 days time as Prime Minister Theresa May met with ministers to thrash out ways to break the deadlock. "However, there is still time for the prime minister to come to the European Council with proposals - proposals that are credible, and have a clear pathway to success", he said. Macron said France and Ireland, as the UK's neighbours, were the two countries most affected by a potential no-deal exit.

Mr Varadkar has consistently warned that the United Kingdom will have to accept Northern Ireland being treated differently to Britain on customs and regulations if it is to keep its promises that Brexit will not lead to a hard border.

Speaking to RTE News in Cork, Mr Coveney said: "In the absence of a British Government co-operating in the way that they have committed to, to actually prevent checks on the island of Ireland, well then we need to try to come up with another plan".

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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