Leo Varadkar: It’s not my job to help Theresa May with Brexit

This week’s Brexit deadline to solve the Irish border question will be missed because of British inaction, the Taoiseach has said.

Mr Varadkar said it is “not my job to help Theresa May”, adding that a special summit of EU leaders may be required in September to avoid a hard Brexit.

Speaking at an event in Dublin Castle marking the 25th anniversary of the decriminalisation of homosexuality, Mr Varadkar said the threat of a no-deal Brexit means making preparations at Irish ports and airports if it happens next March.

EU leaders meet in Brussels on Thursday, but have already concluded that “sufficient and substantial progress” has not been made on the Irish backstop issue.

Mr Varadkar said draft conclusions ahead of the summit have been signed off by the EU’s 27 governments.

“We are saying there has been some progress on some of the other aspects of the withdrawal agreement but there hasn’t been any progress since March on the Irish backstop,” he said.

Mr Varadkar said talks need to intensify in the coming weeks.

He said EU countries will begin preparations for the possibility of a no-deal Brexit, signalling the impact on Irish travellers and goods.

“I don’t think that is likely,” he said. “Nobody does, but we have to think it is a possibility. And that means making preparations in our ports and airports for that eventuality.”

Asked if he could do anything to help, Mr Varadkar said: “It’s not my job to help Mrs May.

“The people of the United Kingdom decided on Brexit and it’s not my job to help Prime Minister May or the United Kingdom government. It’s my job to make sure that we don’t have a hard border on our island.”

“We think October is the last time that you could realistically have a withdrawal agreement finalised because it does require parliamentary ratification both by the UK parliament and the European Parliament.

“We are going to review at the summit in Brussels as to whether there is an argument for having a special summit, perhaps in September.”

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