Belfast Telegraph

Hard Brexit border in Ireland must not be contemplated, says Taoiseach Varadkar

By Press Association

The settlement the UK has agreed in principle over Brexit is made up of obligations and commitments it has already settled on, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said.

He was speaking in Zagreb as part of a tour of three European capitals to discuss Brexit and other issues relating to Britain leaving the EU next year.

The Taoiseach also said a hard border could not be contemplated.

"I think there is a real understanding from every member state that we need to avoid that, first of all through the withdrawal treaty and then through the final relationship," Mr Varadkar said.

Mr Varadkar visited the Croatian capital for meetings with president Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic and prime minister Andrej Plenkovic.

He will travel to Romania today and will meet president Klaus Iohannis and prime minister Viorica Dancila.

Tanaiste Simon Coveney said he was optimistic about negotiations.

"Nobody wants a no deal Brexit, it would be catastrophic for Britain, but also very bad news for Ireland.

"The responsibility is on all of us to find a way forward and I'm optimistic we will," he added.

Meanwhile, Jeremy Hunt said only Russian President Vladimir Putin would welcome a no deal Brexit.

The Foreign Secretary said Mr Putin would rejoice if the UK and its allies failed to reach an agreement.

His comments strike a different tone from predecessor Boris Johnson who said a Brexit on World Trade Organisation terms "doesn't hold terrors" - and came despite Theresa May's insistence that "no deal is better than a bad deal".

The Prime Minister, who took her Cabinet to north-east England for an away day, insisted that she was having "constructive" talks with EU counterparts about the blueprint agreed by her Government at Chequers.

Mr Hunt, who was on a visit to Germany, warned about the dangers of the UK and EU accidentally stumbling into a "no deal" scenario.

If that happened "the only person rejoicing would be Vladimir Putin", he said.

The last gathering of Cabinet ministers away from Downing Street was at the Prime Minister's Chequers retreat to thrash out a Brexit blueprint.

This eventually led to the resignations of Secretary of State for Exiting the EU David Davis and Mr Johnson.

Her top team of ministers met for a special session in Gateshead yesterday before Mrs May went to Newcastle to answer questions from workers at an engineering firm.

The Prime Minister told staff at Reece Group about her efforts to sell the Chequers plan to the EU.

"What I see is people focusing their minds now on the impact the future relationship will have on their economies as well as ours," she said.

Belfast Telegraph

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