Politics, Europe

EU solidarity with Ireland will not falter: Irish PM

As threat of no-deal Brexit looms larger, Leo Varadkar says Ireland's concerns are also the EU's

15.02.2019
EU solidarity with Ireland will not falter: Irish PM (File Photo) - Prime Minister of Ireland Leo Varadkar

By Ahmet Gurhan Kartal

LONDON

Anyone expecting the EU’s solidarity with Ireland to falter on the Brexit border issue is “in for a nasty surprise,” Ireland’s prime minister said on Friday

Speaking in Dublin, Leo Varadkar underlined that EU solidarity has been remarkable since the U.K.’s surprise 2016 decision to leave the bloc.

“One of the most striking things about what has unfolded since the U.K.’s decision to leave has been the remarkable solidarity from the EU,” Varadkar said.

“Despite many attempts to bilateralize issues or to divide the 27” -- the EU members besides Britain -- “the solidarity has been strong and resolute and those who think it will break at the last moment are in for a nasty surprise,” he said.

“Ireland’s concerns have become the European Union’s concerns.”

Varadkar also said that planning for a no-deal Brexit is now very real.

He said: “I explained to [European Commission] President [Jean-Claude] Juncker the assistance Ireland will require in the event of a no-deal Brexit, [and] for his part he emphasized that the EU stands ready to help Ireland in finding and funding the specific solutions to the challenges we might face.”

Separately, Simon Coveney, Ireland’s foreign minister, expressed his disbelief of how far the British government has let the issue of no deal go.

“I think it is extraordinary and unbelievable really that the British Parliament and British government have let it come to this,” he said.

“We are 42 days out until Britain is due to leave, there is still division within a political party that is causing Ireland to spend hundreds of millions of euros to prepare for no deal,” he added, referring to the lack of clarity in the U.K.’s Brexit strategy due to divisions in the ruling Conservative Party.

Coveney said: “A no-deal Brexit will cause enormous strain on Ireland north and south, and many people will be deeply impacted.

“The idea that there is even a possibility of a no-deal Brexit is crazy.”

On Thursday British Prime Minister Theresa May suffered an embarrassing defeat when the House of Commons rejected her renewed approach to leaving the EU.

MPs voted 303-258 against a government amendment to endorse May’s renewed approach in negotiations with the EU and prevent the U.K. from crashing out the EU without a deal.

The U.K. is set to leave the EU on March 29.

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