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Varadkar warns Irish border checks 'could move to mainland Europe' in no-deal Brexit: reports

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar (Tom Honan/PA)
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar (Tom Honan/PA)

Leo Varadkar has warned opposition leaders border checks in the event of a no-deal Brexit could be operated in France or the Netherlands and that the EU could treat the UK and the Republic "as one block", according to reports.

The Irish Examiner reports the Taoiseach gave the warning during a meeting with party leaders on Tuesday evening.

Mr Varadkar and his department secretary general John Callinan said the European Union could move control of any border away from Ireland and on to mainland Europe if the UK and EU cannot agree a withdrawal agreement.

The newspaper reports opposition leaders were told of the possibility of a third country operating new border processes.

Produce leaving Ireland for mainland Europe would be vetted at ports such as in Calais in France or Rotterdam in the Netherlands.

A source told the Irish Examiner: "It was said that it would be very catastrophic for us if the border was in Calais. The whole vibe is to sit tight. There was a mention of this in extremis and for it be avoided at all costs.”

Another source present at the meeting said: “The risk is restrictions could be imposed in Calais or Rotterdam as they [the EU] would not trust us. It would be if the UK was bringing in chlorinated chicken or the likes into Ireland.”

Those present at the meeting were told a third country, such as France, could take the lead on border infrastructure that would apply to Ireland and the UK "as one block".

However, on Tuesday EU Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas told reporters it was "obvious" there would be a hard border in Ireland in a no-deal Brexit.

Mr Schinas comments come despite both the Irish and British governments making firm commitments there will be no hard border on the island of Ireland.

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