Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson at Government Buildings in Dublin on Monday. Photo: Reuters

Kevin Doyle

Brexit ‘mood music’ is good but still no substance to UK proposals, says Varadkar


THE ‘mood music’ on Brexit is good but there is still no substance to what the UK is proposing, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said.



THE ‘mood music’ on Brexit is good but there is still no substance to what the UK is proposing, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said.

He warned that movement will be needed soon if a deal is to be secured before EU leaders meet on October 17.

Mr Varadkar was speaking after the UK’s Brexit Minister, Stephen Barclay, suggested Ireland will face food and medicine shortages if there is no deal.

He said statements that the UK will be negotiating from a position of “weakness” in a no-deal scenario “ignores” the wider picture.

In a speech in Madrid, Mr Barclay said two-thirds of Irish medicines come through Great Britain, 40pc of exports to through Dover and supermarkets are supplied from distribution centres in England.

“Yet this is presented as solely a UK challenge, it is a mutual challenge, because if indeed there were two and a half days of delays at Caais, then the impact would not solely be felt within the UK, it would be felt in Ireland and indeed in businesses in Spain,” he said.

Mr Varadkar said he had not heard the comments but was he was “confident that we won’t have any difficulty in terms of balancing supplies, and there will absolutely be food on the shelves”.

He said some British brands may not be available but other foods would.

“People don’t need to be concerned about that,” the Taoiseach said while attending the National Ploughing Championships.

“What I would say and I think this is just a statement of fact, the two countries that are going to be worst affected in the event of no deal are going to be Britain and Ireland. Most countries on the continent would have barely affected at all.

“So it’s in the interests of the United Kingdom, to put forward proposals that allow them to leave the European Union in an orderly fashion that minimizes the damage to their country, their economy and ours as well,” he said.

Mr Varadkar added that there is a “real willingness to find a deal”.

“Certainly nobody wants to be responsible or to blame for no deal. And I think the rhetoric has tempered the mood music is good. There is a lot of energy and a lot of positivity. The difficulty is, so when it comes to the substance of the issues that need to be resolved, the gaps are still very wide. We have no time to lose.”

Earlier Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin called for the EU to stop antagonising the UK.

Read more: Brexit and economic links on agenda for talks between Donohoe and UK Chancellor

He argued there had been too much “megaphone diplomacy and triumphalism”, adding that both sides need to take a “step back” and cool the temperature of exchanges.

“Political games are over, one-upmanship has to be over,” he said.

“In my view there are clear ideas as to where this is heading, it is heading towards a Northern Ireland-specific solution. The difficulty will be in finalising that, but that’s where it is heading.

“I think Brussels knows that, I think the Irish Government knows that, I think the British Government knows that.”

He added: “It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to say that you can move from a UK-wide backstop to a Northern Ireland-specific solution.”

Read more: John Downing: ‘Now we know what really happened when Boris met with EU President Juncker’

Mr Martin said more complex problems had been resolved in the 1998 Good Friday peace agreement.

Online Editors