Taoiseach to seek reassurances from EU over UK's attempts to reopen Brexit negotiations

Taoiseach to seek reassurances from EU over UK's attempts to reopen Brexit negotiations

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar will seek solidarity from the EU but also continue talks on a potential Brexit no-deal when he travels to Brussels next week.

As the countdown continues to Britain crashing out of the union without agreement next month, Ireland is trying to cement EU support for stopping fresh attempts by London to reopen the Brexit deal.

Mr Varadkar will meet European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker next Wednesday and discuss contingency plans for a no-deal, including issues around trade.

A statement from the Government said: “This work is intensifying both within the European Commission and across the member states. The Taoiseach will outline the work underway in Ireland and the supports that may be needed given the potential impact of a hard Brexit in Ireland.”

At the same time, EU officials examining problems with a no-deal will visit Dublin and meet senior figures from several departments. The officials have already visited other EU capitals in preparation for a Brexit without agreement.

While in Brussels, Mr Varadkar will also meet European Council President Donald Tusk who is expected to give a show of solidarity. Mr Varadkar will thank the union for the support from member states to keep the backstop, a mechanism designed to prevent a new hard border in the North.

Meanwhile, Tánaiste Simon Coveney will use a scheduled visit to Washington and New York next week to drum up support from the United States for Ireland's position on Brexit.

While Mr Coveney is in America to discuss general Irish-American relations as well as developments in the Middle East peace process, Department of Foreign Affairs sources say there is “palpable concern” in the US Congress about unfolding developments with Brexit, including any possibility of a new hard border on the island of Ireland.

Elsewhere, European Affairs Minister Helen McEntee has reiterated Dublin's opposition to British prime minister Theresa May's wish to reopen the Withdrawal Agreement to look for alternatives to the backstop.

She said proposed technological methods for keeping the border open were "not the answer", telling BBC 4's Today Programme.

She said: "This is about protecting a peace process ... No amount of technology can address that."

Ms McEntee added: "This was a deal that was negotiated with the UK, by the UK. They weren't bystanders in a separate room, there were discussions, negotiations, there were compromises on both sides."

Nonetheless, Ms McEntee signalled that Ms May would be able to postpone the Brexit March 29 date.

She said a British request to extend the two-year Article 50 negotiation process would "most likely" be approved by the EU27.

More on this topic

Irish Examiner View: Power grab bad news for vital Brexit talksIrish Examiner View: Power grab bad news for vital Brexit talks

NI firms may have to make 31 entries on customs forms after Brexit – officialsNI firms may have to make 31 entries on customs forms after Brexit – officials

Mobile bank N26 to close UK accounts in April because of BrexitMobile bank N26 to close UK accounts in April because of Brexit

Brussels chief ‘surprised’ at UK’s Brexit stance as Barnier warns of cliff-edge in trade talksBrussels chief ‘surprised’ at UK’s Brexit stance as Barnier warns of cliff-edge in trade talks