By Daniel McConnell and Eoin English
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said he will not allow the British to “destroy” the EU through Brexit.
Speaking at the end of the EU summit in Brussels, European leaders expressed their “concern” at the lack of progress made by the British in resolving the Irish backstop issue.
The Taoiseach said it is unrealistic to expect the backstop to apply to the UK, saying it can only apply to the North.
Speaking to reporters, he made clear the UK could not avail of the single market for goods and not services. He said this could ultimately “destroy” the EU, which he and other leaders will not allow.
“We really regret that the UK has decided to leave the European Union, we are not going to let them destroy the European Union,” he said.
He said he will now wait for British prime minister Theresa May to publish a white paper on the UK’s future relationship with the EU, which is due in two weeks’ time.
He said he will continue to resist any attempts by the British to engage in any sideline talks outside of the main negotiations process.
He said because no progress has been made on the Irish backstop issue since March, all EU states will now step up preparations for a “no deal” scenario.
Meanwhile, Brexit will be on the agenda for talks today between Agriculture Minister Michael Creed, and his French counterpart, Stephane Travert, who is due to arrive in Cork Airport this morning.
Both countries share many of the same concerns on agri-food and fisheries issues in the context of Brexit, and Mr Creed will update Mr Travert on Ireland’s latest view of the Brexit talks.
Mr Travert is due to visit the Pernod Ricard Distillery in Midleton later and attend tomorrow’s Munster hurling final clash between Cork and Clare in Semple Stadium.
This story originally appeared in the Irish Examiner