Taoiseach calls on Ireland to be 'grown ups in the room' on Brexit

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar arrives at the European Council in Brussels yesterday. Photo: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has called on Ireland to become the "grown-ups in the room" after the EU agreed to allow Britain to extend the Brexit deadline until October 31 - despite serious concerns the UK could sabotage the entire bloc.

After almost six hours of talks last night, EU leaders agreed to extend the looming Brexit deadline until October 31, which is also Halloween night.

The deadline was pushed by senior officials including European Council president Donald Tusk, but was resisted by French president Emmanuel Macron who initially insisted such a deadline could undermine the EU by allowing Britain to "sabotage" the bloc.

Speaking to reporters on leaving the special EU summit in Brussels just after 3am this morning, Mr Varadkar said despite the concerns the extension is in the best interests of both the EU and Britain.

And despite acknowledging the fears involved, the Taoiseach said the reality is Ireland and other EU members must now be the "grown-ups in the room".

"If the UK is still a member then it is a full member, and that means having an EU commissioner and other matters... We have to be grown-ups in the room... Like I say, we have to be practical, logical, sensible, we have to be the grown-ups in the room," he said.

Mr Varadkar separately said while the new October 31 Brexit deadline "isn't perfect" it will give Britain "a period of time to make a decision" on what it wants to do next.

The Taoiseach said "ultimately it's up to them [Britain]" on the next Brexit steps and appeared to downplay French president Emmanuel Macron's concerns Britain could undermine the EU if it remains in the bloc for a number of months, saying:

Quite frankly that [disruptive influences] is already the case with [MEP, Nigel] Farage so it wouldn't make a difference.

And, asked about the seemingly coincidental new Brexit date of October 31, which happens to be Halloween night, he added jokingly:

"As I learned today, Halloween is not a holiday celebrated widely across EU."

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