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Ireland should leave EU with UK, suggests DUP's Paisley as Varadkar cements French links

By Suzanne Breen

DUP MP Ian Paisley has said the Republic should begin a discussion about leaving the EU along with the UK.

Writing in today's Belfast Telegraph, he accused Dublin of being in "total denial" about Brexit and urged it to adopt "a much more realistic position".

Mr Paisley said: "It is about time that the Irish allowed a new national conversation to begin and that they at least considered what it would be like to exit the EU along with the UK.

"Shouting about how bad Brexit is for the border is not a coherent policy of dealing with what is occurring."

The North Antrim MP maintained that it was Dublin which needed special status within the EU.

"Given that over 60% of the Republic's goods and services are traded with the UK and that a significant proportion of the remainder are traded with the USA, it is the Republic that requires a special status within the EU," he said.

Meanwhile, Leo Varadkar has highlighted the importance of the Republic's relationship with France post-Brexit.

Speaking during his first visit to Paris as Taoiseach, he stressed how supportive France had been in backing his government's position in the Brexit negotiations.

"While we may not agree on everything, we do have a very strong ally in France," he said.

"After the UK leaves the EU, the nearest EU country to Ireland will be France, so this is going to be a really important relationship into the future."

Keeping with the mood of strengthening links post-Brexit, the discussions included the planned Celtic energy interconnector between the two countries.

Issues where opinions between Paris and Dublin diverge were also addressed, such as tax policy in relation to multinational internet companies.

Mr Varadkar said the issue should be tackled on a worldwide level by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, but he accepted that France favoured a more European approach.

The Fine Gael leader said he did not want to see a new tax on internet companies that would ultimately benefit non-EU states.

European Council president Donald Tusk yesterday said it was up to the British government to decide whether there was a "good deal, no deal or not Brexit" at all.

Responding to Mr Tusk's remarks on London being able to stop withdrawal, a spokesman for the Prime Minister said: "Brexit is not going to be reversed." 

The EU's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier indicated that agreement on a free trade deal with the UK after Brexit would take years to complete.

He said the discussions would be very different from the first phase of the negotiations on the terms of Britain's withdrawal and would entail "risks".

Mr Barnier's comments came after the Prime Minister told MPs there could be no transitional period after Brexit unless an agreement could be struck over a trade deal.

In a statement, Theresa May said she remained confident that a deal was possible following the latest EU summit last week in Brussels.

European Union President Jean-Claude Juncker yesterday moved to reassure the UK that there was no "hostile" agenda from Brussels and a "no-deal" scenario was "not our working assumption".

Mr Juncker told MEPs in Strasbourg: "The Commission is not negotiating in a hostile mood. We want a deal.

"Those who don't want a deal - the no-dealers - they had no friends in the Commission."

Belfast Telegraph

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