“Time is running out” for Britain on Brexit: Taoisaeach

By Daniel McConnell in Vienna

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said “time is running out” for British Prime Minister Theresa May and her Cabinet to decide what kind of Brexit they want.

Speaking in Vienna following a bilatteral meeting with Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, Mr Varadkar said that certainty is needed as soon as possible, adding the March 2019 deadline is fast approaching.

[timgcapSebastian Kurz with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in Vienna tonight]VaradkarVienna_large.jpg[/timgcap]

“Certainly I am not losing patience but time is running out, March 2019 isn't all that far away now.

It would be difficult to agree a transition agreement without knowing what kind of relationship would come out of it,” he said.

“We await an outcome from the UK Cabinet as to exactly what relationship they want with the EU after Brexit. As much clarity as soon as possible would be welcome. It is 20 months now since the referendum, 20 years since some people started campaigning for one. So at this stage having clarity as to what the UK would like its new relationship to be like would be very welcome,” he added.

Chancellor Kurz who is just 31-years-old spent some in Bray, Co Wicklow to learn English said he supported the Irish case for no return to a hard border, describing the situation with the North as “delicate”.

“We need a solution which is a satisfactory one for Ireland with a delicate situation when it comes to Northern Ireland. A hard border between Ireland and Great Britain will not work so we are glad to see progress has already been achieved. We will support Ireland because it is in all our interests to find a solution to this delicate issue,” he said.

Mr Varadkar, who was guest of honour at a Gala Opera in Vienna also said he would be using the occassion to press the case for Central Bank Governor Philip Lane to be nominated to the board of the European Central Bank (ECB)

“Yeah of course. We didn't get to speak about it in our tete-a-tete meeting but we will be speaking later on in the evening and as you know Ireland is a founder member of the Euro but we've never had anyone serving on the board of the ECB. We do have somebody on the General Council but not on the board. We're putting forward for the first time a candidate of distinction, Philip Lane,” Mr Varadkar said.

Chancellor Kurz said he would look positively at the Irish proposal.

Mr Varadkar said that while he wished Mary Lou McDonald well as the new Sinn Fein President, he said their parties remain uncompatable in terms of Government formation.

He also said he wished her elevation to President would lead to a break in the celebration of the violence events of the past.

“I think it would be welcome if the new president of SF was to bring about a clean break with the past, particularly the ongoing celebration of violence by SF at commemorations and so on,” he said.

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