Belfast Telegraph

Varadkar ruling out EU Brexit concessions to get DUP backing on deal

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar with Prime Minister Boris Johnson
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar with Prime Minister Boris Johnson

By Cormac McQuinn and Cate McCurry

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said there will be no further EU concessions to help the UK Government win the support of the DUP for the new Brexit deal.

He also said the Irish Government was "disappointed" that the House of Commons has not yet voted on the deal struck between Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the EU.

He said yesterday that a Brexit extension is preferable to a crash-out Brexit "if it comes to it".

The DUP is opposing the deal as it is against the prospect of a de facto customs border down the Irish Sea.

Mr Varadkar ruled out further concessions aimed at getting the DUP onside.

He said: "This is done now - we have negotiated two deals with the UK Government at this stage.

"Both of them supported by 28 governments.

"There isn't going to be any further changes and I think the UK Government acknowledges that."

He also said: "Obviously the government is disappointed that there wasn't a vote in the House of Commons on the Brexit deal at the weekend.

"The UK has now requested an extension, and of course an extension would be preferable to no-deal if it comes to it."

Mr Varadkar cautioned that an extension will need the unanimity of the 27 EU member states.

He said member states "are reasonably asking what is the purpose of this extension".

"Is it more time to ratify the deal, or is it for something else?

"And I think some clarity from Westminster on that, would be very helpful."

Mr Varadkar said he believes the risk of a no-deal is "relatively low".

"Nonetheless, we need to continue to prepare for it and as a result of that, we are not stepping down our plans of preparing for a no-deal."

He said that there were "quite a number of MPs" in Westminster who voted for an extension, adding: "A lot of them have indicated they will vote for the deal.

"So, I think it is more likely than unlikely that a deal will eventually pass."

European Council president Donald Tusk is expected to spend the coming days canvassing opinions among EU leaders on their views on the UK's request for an extension. Mr Varadkar is expected to be on Mr Tusk's call sheet.

Sources last night said this will take place at the same time as the "fluid environment" in the House of Commons.

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