Belfast Telegraph

Commons could back May's deal, insists Varadkar as he says Irish ready for Brexit

Theresa May
Theresa May

By Aoife Moore

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said that he is still hopeful for a deal on the UK's withdrawal from the EU.

Commentators believe the Prime Minister's Withdrawal Agreement is likely to fail in the House of Commons vote today, but the Taoiseach refused to comment on what he thought should happen next.

"I think it's important that we allow the British political system the time to make that decision," he said.

"I hope the vote will be in favour, that the Withdrawal Agreement will be ratified by Westminster and we can get straight into talks on the future relationship."

Mr Varadkar added he had "no desire to threaten the union".

Mr Varadkar added that although he remained optimistic, his government is making preparations for a no-deal Brexit.

"We'll have further preparations at cabinet tomorrow for no-deal Brexit. I still think a no-deal Brexit is unlikely, but we need to be prepared for it nonetheless," Mr Varadkar said. "I shouldn't pretend to anyone that any country can be fully prepared for Brexit, there is no good Brexit and a no-deal Brexit will have a very significant impact on Ireland, Britain and Europe.

"We will be prepared, but I'm not going to say to you that everything is going to be fine, of course there will be interruptions and negative impact but we'll be as prepared as we possibly can be."

Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney said he hoped yesterday's letter from the EU to Mrs May would provide reassurance and clarity to MPs in Parliament ahead of today's vote.

"People shouldn't feel threatened by it (the backstop); some people have painted the backstop into something that it's not," he said.

"This week is going to be a really significant few days. This is a time where Ireland has to hold its nerve. We're most impacted by Brexit of all the EU states.

"We need to stay close to the British government and EU partners - but shouldn't respond in knee-jerked or any panicked way."

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