Latest: Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has spoken with European Council President Donald Tusk about the current Brexit situation and they agree preparations for a ‘no deal’ outcome should intensify.
I have decided to call #EUCO on #Brexit (Art. 50) on Thursday. We will not renegotiate the deal, including the backstop, but we are ready to discuss how to facilitate UK ratification. As time is running out, we will also discuss our preparedness for a no-deal scenario.— Donald Tusk (@eucopresident) December 10, 2018
In a statement, the Government Press Office said the two agreed that the Withdrawal Agreement is the best option.
"The Taoiseach and European Council President Donald Tusk spoke by phone this afternoon," the staement said.
"They discussed this week's European Council meeting and the current situation on Brexit.
"They agreed that the Withdrawal Agreement is the best option and could not be renegotiated. They also agreed that preparations for a ‘no deal’ outcome should intensify."
Latest 1.10pm: The Brexit Withdrawal Agreement is the only deal on the table between the EU and the UK and is not open to renegotiation, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said, writes Daniel McConnell.
Speaking on Monday lunchtime in Dublin, Mr Varadkar said that to re-open one aspect of the deal would mean opening the entire deal for re-negotiation, and that was not possible.
“I have heard suggestions that the vote may be postponed but I do not have confirmation of that. What I can say is that the withdrawal agreement, including the Irish backstop, is the only agreement on the table. It took over a year and a half to negotiate, it has the support of 28 governments and it is not possible to re-open any aspect of that agreement without opening all aspects,” he said.
He said the purpose of his phone call with British Prime Minister Theresa May on Sunday was to “update me on the progress she was making in seeking to get ratification of the withdrawal agreement in the House of Commons and also how we think ahead as to how we move ahead.”
He said Ireland and the EU have already made many concessions to the UK and it is not possible to make any more.
“A lot of concessions have been made along the way. Most recently we agreed there would be a review clause. No one should ever forget how we got to this point, the UK decided to leave the EU. The UK Government decided to take lots of options off the table whether it was staying in the Customs Union or the Single Market or in relation to a Northern Ireland specific backstop. So the reason we ended up in the situation we are in is because of the red lines,” he said.
“We have already offered a lot of concessions. We ended up with the backstop because of all of the red lines that the UK laid down. I have no difficulty with statements which clarify what is in the withdrawal agreement but no statement can contradict what is in the withdrawal agreement,” the Taoiseach added.
10.30am: The current Brexit deal is the only one on the table according to the Tánaiste.
Simon Coveney has poured cold water on claims in the UK that another deal could be re-negotiated to weaken the backstop arrangement.
It comes as the European Court of Justice has ruled the UK can cancel Brexit without needing permission from other EU countries.
Speaking as he arrived in Brussels this morning, Mr Coveney said the deal is not going to change.
"The deal is the deal," said the Cork TD. "It's taken two years to put together. It's a fair deal for both sides.
"It protects, from an Irish perspective and from a British perspective, peaceful relationships on the island of Ireland.
"The backstop was never and is not an offer from one side to the other.
"It was a negotiated solution that both sides signed up to."
The ECJ found earlier today that if the UK does decide to revoke Article 50 and stop the Brexit process it would remain in the EU as a member state and the revocation must be decided following "democratic process".
In a statement, the ECJ said: "In today's judgment, the full court has ruled that, when a member state has notified the European Council of its intention to withdraw from the European Union, as the UK has done, that member state is free to revoke unilaterally that notification.
"That possibility exists for as long as a withdrawal agreement concluded between the EU and that member state has not entered into force or, if no such agreement has been concluded, for as long as the two-year period from the date of the notification of the intention to withdraw from the EU, and any possible extension, has not expired."
- Digital Desk