IT would be “a tragedy” if Europe wakes up to a no-deal Brexit on November 1, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said.
However, ahead of his first meeting with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson tomorrow, Mr Varadkar played down any prospects of a breakthrough.
Ireland remains entirely wedded to the idea that the UK must accept the backstop as the only working means of preventing a hard border on this island.
“I don’t think the meeting tomorrow is a high-stakes meeting, as I don’t anticipate a big breakthrough tomorrow. If we come to an agreement that agreement will happen in October at the EU summit,” Mr Varadkar said.
“But the stakes are high, certainly I don’t think anyone can argue with that.”
In the event of no-deal, Mr Varadkar says it is not possible to talk about a free-trade agreement until issues around Ireland, citizens’ rights, and the financial settlement associated with the UK leaving the EUare resolved, which he says were already resolved in the Withdrawal Agreement.
“I am loathe to speculate, but if we end up in a no-deal scenario on November 1, I do think within weeks or months the EU and UK will have to sit down round the table and negotiate again, but it would be a tragedy if we got to that point,” he said.
Mr Varadkar, along with EU Minister Helen McEntee and OPW Minister Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran, spent around an hour inspecting preparations for a disorderly Brexit at Dublin Port today.
He said roughly 80pc of all trade and merchandise from the UK comes through the Port.
New inspection bays, refrigeration facilities for food and holding areas for animals have been installed, as well as hundreds of parking spots for HGVs.
Mr Varadkar said he would rather none of it was necessary, but Ireland must continue preparing for the worst.
Asked about the UK government’s assessment that a deal can still be done in time for an EU Summit on October 17, the Taoiseach said that was an “very optimistic assessment of where we stand”.
He said that view wouldn’t be shared by the 27 EU Member States.
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