Ireland “may have to live” with a no-deal Brexit and enforce the border to protect the single market “for a period”, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said.
His comments come as the European Parliament expressed “grave concerns” about UK prime minister Boris Johnson’s proposed Brexit deal.
Mr Varadkar spoke with European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker and European Council president Donald Tusk last night.
He made it clear to the EU officials that major issues remain with the UK’s proposals aimed at avoiding a no-deal Brexit.
“In both calls, the Taoiseach said he welcomes the fact that the UK prime minister has put forward proposals as a basis for further discussion, but that major issues remain with the UK’s proposals, especially on customs and with consent and democracy in the North,” read a statement.
Mr Varadkar reassured Mr Juncker and Mr Tusk of Ireland’s commitment to protecting the EU single market and customs union, as well as protecting the Good Friday Agreement and avoiding a hard border.
“Time is short, and all pledged to stay in touch, both directly and through their teams,” the Government said in a statement.
Following his meeting with Mr Lofven, Mr Varadkar said that, in the case of a no-deal, Ireland will have to accept border checks in the case of a no-deal Brexit until a solution can be found.
“If we end up in a no-deal scenario, we may have to live with no deal for a while and Ireland will do what is necessary to protect the single market,” he said. “But having to do that for a period of time while negotiating a deal but that is very different to signing up to an international treaty.”
Mr Varadkar said it would be “entirely appropriate” that any revised withdrawal agreement should be voted on by the Dáil.
set out what he believes are the major barriers to agreement.
“There are two major obstacles,” he said. “Firstly, the proposal on customs. I don’t fully understand how we could have the Republic and the North in separate customs unions and somehow avoid tariffs, customs checks, so we need to tease that through.
“Secondly the issue of consent in democracy is important but any consent mechanism must reflect the views of a whole population. No one party, not my party, not Sinn Féin, not the DUP, should be in a position to veto the will of the majority, so there is a difficulty around that.”
In the Dáil, Tánaiste Simon Coveney said there will be no Brexit deal if the paper presented by Mr Johnson is the final proposal. He said he believed Mr Johnson wants to make a deal, but that he “could forgive anyone for being sceptical”.
“But if that is the final proposal, there will be no deal,” he told TDs. “There are a number of fundamental problems with that proposal.”
Mr Coveney’s comments drew the ire of DUP leader Arlene Foster, who accused him of
“Simon Coveney’s remarks are deeply unhelpful, obstructionist, and intransigent,” she said.
“Mr Coveney’s rejection of a reasonable offer is paving the road for a no-deal exit because unionism will not allow Northern Ireland to be trapped at the whim of Dublin or the EU. We will not buy that.”
The police chief constable in the North, Simon Byrne, has told Mr Johnson it is not possible to police the border with his current numbers.
He said he took part in a “candid” 30-minute conversation with Mr Johnson by video call last Friday.
“It was a very open conversation, trying to tell him we saw that it was nigh-on impossible to try and police over 300 crossings with the amount of police officers we had,” said Mr Byrne.
Me Kenny insisted that “peace and stability” should never be taken for granted.
Three issues were agreed with previous UK prime ministers Theresa May and David Cameron, said Mr Kenny. These included no changes to the Good Friday Agreement, the full preservation of the common travel area, and no hard border.