‘It’s not my job to help Theresa May’ on Brexit, says Varadkar

Taoiseach says UK prime minister must resolve difficulties in her government

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar: ‘It’s not my job to help Mrs May’. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar: ‘It’s not my job to help Mrs May’. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

 

The Taoiseach has said it is not his job to help British prime minister Theresa May to resolve Brexit difficulties in her government.

Leo Varadkar said “the people of the United Kingdom decided on Brexit and it’s not my job to help prime minister May or the United Kingdom government”.

In a hard line response when asked what he could do to help Mrs May, Mr Varadkar said “it’s not my job to help Mrs May”.

“It’s my job to make sure that we don’t have a hard border on our island and make sure that whatever the new trading relationship is between the UK and the EU, that the negative effect of this is minimised.”

Mr Varadkar was speaking to reporters before he addressed a reception at Dublin Castle to mark the 25th anniversary of the decriminalistion of homosexuality.

Just days before a crucial EU leaders’ meeting on Brexit, the Taoiseach said the draft conclusions have now been signed off by the 27 governments.

“We are saying there has been some progress on some of the other aspects of the withdrawal agreement but there hasn’t been any progress since March on the Irish issue.”

He said EU countries “are reaffirming their commitment to insisting that there is a backstop in the withdrawal agreement”.

“There can be no withdrawal agreement without a backstop,” he said.

The backstop ensures Northern Ireland would remain aligned with EU regulations.

Mr Varadkar said two things need to happen now: “Negotiations need to intensify in the coming weeks. We are waiting for the British to produce their white paper on the future relationship.”

That is due in early July.

Mr Varadkar said “it will be an intensification of negotiations rather than a stalling of negotiations”.

He said: “Also EU countries are going to begin preparations for the possibility of a no deal Brexit.

“I don’t think that is likely, nobody does, but we have to think it is a possibility. And that means making preparations in our ports and airports for that eventuality.”