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Any EU country that uses veto against Brexit extension 'wouldn't be forgiven' warns Varadkar

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. (Brian Lawless/PA Wire)
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. (Brian Lawless/PA Wire)

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said that he believes the UK will be granted a Brexit extension and warned that any country that uses a veto against the move "wouldn't be forgiven".

The Republic of Ireland's leader was speaking after Prime Minister Theresa May wrote to the European Union to request a further Brexit delay until June 30 in an attempt to find a solution.

It has been reported that European Council President Donald Tusk will propose a 12-month extension to Brexit, with the option of cutting it short if an agreement is reached.

All 27 member states would have to agree on any extension before it could be granted.

Mr Varadkar said that it would be difficult to forgive a country that vetoed an extension which could then cause hardship to Ireland and other EU member states.

He warned that any country that vetoed the request could "find themselves on the other end of that veto power in the future".

The Taoiseach told RTE that while he felt an extension being vetoed was "always a possibility", it was highly unlikely it would be used.

Mr Varadkar said that the European Council is working together on Brexit, but acknowledged that the issue was frustrating smaller countries like Malta and Lithuania who were not directly affected.

He said the prospect of a crash-out Brexit next Friday was unlikely.

“Because nobody wants no-deal I think the likelihood is an extension,” Mr Varadkar said.

(PA Graphics)
(PA Graphics)

“But what we want to avoid is an extension that just allows for more indecision and more uncertainty.

“So I’d prefer to see a longer extension during which the United Kingdom has more time to decide really what future relationship it wants to have with the European Union, rather than the alternative, which could be rolling extensions every couple of weeks, every couple of months.”

The EU's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier is set to visit Ireland on Monday for talks with Mr Varadkar.

The visit is seen as a sign of solidarity for Ireland ahead of an emergency EU summit in Brussels next week.

Mrs May will also travel to Brussels next Wednesday for the summit, ahead of the UK's tentative departure date of April 12. 

A previous request for a June 30 extension was rejected by the EU because of the need for the UK to take part in upcoming European elections.

The PM has indicated that the UK would be willing to field candidates in the European Parliamentary elections on May 23 if an agreement cannot be reached by then.

If a deal is reached the UK would then seek to leave the EU before the June deadline.

As it stands the UK will leave the EU without a deal on April 12, though if MPs can agree on a plan, a further extension could be granted until May 22.

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