Taoiseach: We are 'far back from cliff edge' but EU must not 'sleep walk' to Brexit cliff

By Elaine Loughlin, in Brussels

The Taoiseach has said all European leaders must ensure the EU does not "sleep walk" towards a Brexit cliff.

Speaking as he arrived at the EU Council meeting of leaders, Leo Varadkar also put it up to Theresa May's Government to provide more details around how Brexit will work.

"Language isn't enough, if the United Kingdom is leaving the European Union it is incumbent on them to put forward detailed proposals as to how we can ensure that things remain much the same," Mr Varadkar said.

"That is at the core of the conflict in the position that the UK is taking, what they always say is that they want to continue to have that close as possible relationship with Ireland and with Europe, we already have the closest possible relationship, it's called the European Union and I think we need a little bit more detail, a lot more detail on how you can square the idea of the closest possible relationship with the circle of the fact that they are departing from that."

Mr Varadkar was also asked about EU Commissioner Phil Hogan's comments this week in which Mr Hogan said: "We’re now so close to the cliff edge of a hard Brexit that we can see the drop almost in front of us."

However, responding, the Taoiseach said we "have a way to go yet" and are "quite far back from the cliff edge" at this stage.

He added: "But it's incumbent on all European prime ministers and presidents to ensure that we don't sleep walk towards that cliff and that substantially more progress is made in the next couple of months."

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