By Ben O'Brien, Daniel McConnell and Elaine Loughlin
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said he will miss Theresa May and warned a 'dangerous period' for Ireland lays ahead. Outside his local polling station today, the Taoiseach talked about his past dealings with the Prime Minister particularly highlighting their work on the common travel area.
“We've worked very closely on issues over the past one and a half years on Brexit and in the North and I particularly want to pay tribute to her, to agreeing to retain and strengthen the common travel area," he said.
He also spoke about the future of Brexit and the different possibilities facing the Irish government in the coming months.
“In the next couple of months, we may see the election of a euro-sceptic Prime Minister who wants to repudiate the withdrawal agreement and go for a no deal or we may even see a new British government who wants a closer relationship with the EU. But whatever happens we're going to hold our nerve," he said.
Tánaiste Simon Coveney claimed that “regardless of who is Prime Minister in the UK, the EU position on Brexit will remain the same”.
“Even if the person in charge changes, the issues won't change. The EU will remain steadfast and supportive of Ireland’s position. The support they’ve shown has been quite extraordinary."
Mr Coveney expressed his sympathy for Mrs May saying “she was doing her best for her country,” and said her resignation “means a lot of uncertainty for Ireland”.
He finished by stating that Ireland is prepared for a no deal Brexit saying, “I still think it can be avoided, but we have to be prepared in case politics fail us.”
Responding to her resignation, Opposition leaders sounded alarm with Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin insisting the Irish Government must, “remain vigilant and stay alert to the threat of a no deal Brexit”.
“The coming leadership election within the Conservative Party has the potential to further destabilise the Brexit process. Our hope will be that her replacement is someone with the skills and determination to achieve the compromise needed to allow the UK and the EU to move on,” he said.
Sinn Féin leader Mary-Lou McDonald warned that Mrs May’s resignation could have “significant implications” regarding Northern Ireland talks around getting institutions up and running again.
"The current stalemate is simply not sustainable,” she said.
“I think the Torys need a dose of reality, I think if they imagine that if by changing their leader and by changing prime minister that they can change the fundamental bottom line in respect of Ireland that they are wrong," she said.
Labour leader Brendan Howlin called for Ireland to move to an “Orange Warning” claiming that, “the risk of a disorderly no deal Brexit is now a real and present danger to jobs and the economy.”
He was critical of how Brexit has been handled saying that UK leaders are “stuck in a time warp” and unable to move forward with Brexit plans.
He finished by stating, “Our own Government should do everything in their power to persuade the next British Government to consider a new public vote and to set out the case for remaining inside a reformed and renewed European Union.”