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'Friend of UK' Varadkar denies bid to overturn Brexit

By Our Political Staff

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has dismissed suggestions he has played any role in reported plots against Brexit.

Mr Varadkar was responding to speculation that the UK Government could arrange a second referendum on EU membership due to the lack of clarity over what Britain leaving the European Union actually means.

The idea was recently mooted by Nigel Farage, who claimed a second poll would put to bed any claims by Remainers that people had changed their minds. However, others say the result of a new vote would overturn Brexit.

Mr Varadkar was the first of all EU heads of government to address a special leaders' debate in the European Parliament and was forced to deny an accusation by Mr Farage that he was part of a conspiracy alongside Tony Blair to stop Brexit.

The former Ukip leader said he "fears" the Taoiseach is "working together with Nick Clegg and Tony Blair" to make sure the UK gets the "worst possible deal" on Brexit thereby forcing the British in to a U-turn.

Mr Varadkar responded: "No. Not involved in any plots with anyone.

"I think Nick Clegg and Tony Blair were mentioned. I've never met Tony Blair. I did meet Nick Clegg once. But no. I'm certainly not party to any plot against the United Kingdom. I'm a friend of the United Kingdom and certainly want to be a friend of the United Kingdom."

Mr Varadkar also declined to give his opinion on whether a second Brexit referendum should be held.

"I don't think it would be constructive or helpful for the leader of another country to be advising that other country whether they should or should not have a second vote," he said.

But he added: "We (the Republic) have had second votes on issues in the past but nobody told us we had to. They were decisions we came to ourselves."

Mr Varadkar cautioned about interfering in democracy in other countries.

"I don't think it's anti-democratic for people to change their minds or have a second vote but any decision on the second referendum must only be one for the UK parliament and the UK people," he said. "We shouldn't tell them to do that or put any pressure or expectation on them in any way. I think that would be counter-productive."

Responding to Mr Varadkar's speech, DUP MEP Diane Dodds said: "The outcome of Brexit on the ties between our two countries will serve as a wider test of the credentials of any deal reached between the UK and the EU.

"The Taoiseach rightly stressed that there should be no hard border between Northern Ireland and the ROI. We agree.

"In focusing on the border Mr Varadkar must not forget the pre-existing relationship East and West that is of vital importance to both of our countries."

Sinn Fein MEP Martina Anderson challenged Mr Varadkar to act on his commitment on Brexit that Irish citizens in the north will not be left behind by an Irish government.

"We welcome the commitment that the people of the North would never again be left behind by the Irish government but now the Taoiseach needs to hold fast on this," she said.

"The Taoiseach's comments that a special arrangement for the north is possible is welcome and we now need to see action from the Irish government to help secure special status for the north within the EU."

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