Leo Varadkar's airspace '˜vendetta' slammed by DUP's Sammy Wilson

Leo Varadkar's comments suggesting Irish airspace could be closed to UK flights post-Brexit have raised the border issue 'to a new high' Sammy Wilson has said.

Friday, 20th July 2018, 9:06 am
Updated Friday, 20th July 2018, 11:53 am
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar speaks to the media at Derrynane House, Kerry, following a government cabinet meeting on Wednesday Photo Brian Lawless/PA Wire

The DUP MP was responding to the taoiseach’s claim that UK air traffic could be badly disrupted in the event of a hard Brexit and no trade deal with the EU.

Speaking in Co Kerry on Wednesday, Mr Varadkar said: “If they want their planes to fly over our skies, they would need to take that into account. You can’t have your cake and eat it. You can’t take back your waters and then expect to take back other people’s sky.”

Mr Varadkar said the restrictions on UK flights could be EU-wide.

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The Irish Times quotes Mr Varadkar as going on to say: “The situation at the moment is that the United Kingdom is part of the single European sky, and if they leave the EU they are not and that does mean that if there was a no deal hard Brexit next March the planes would not fly and Britain would be an island in many ways and that is something that they need to think about.”

Mr Wilson, the DUP’s Brexit spokesman, described the taoiseach as pursuing a “vicious vendetta” over the UK’s decision to exit the European Union.

“It seems that in his obsession to prove himself a good servant of the EU, the Irish taioseach has taken leave of his senses. He wants no hard border on land but now threatens to erect one in the air.

“What does he intend to do? Put flak towers around the border and shoot the planes down? Intercept them with his air force and blow them out of the air? Does he not want any more people flying from Heathrow into Dublin as hundreds of thousands do at present to escape the crippling UK Air Passenger Duty on long haul flights? Will the Aer Lingus flights from the UK no longer be welcome in Irish skies?

“Will the refusal to allow Aer Lingus planes flying to and from Belfast, to fly across Ireland represent a hard border and be a breach of the Belfast Agreement?”

Mr Wilson added: “If this is an example of blue skies thinking from the Dublin government as it dreams up new ways of intimidating the UK to stay in the EU, then it shows how desperate the Europhiles are becoming as our Prime Minister is starting to make it clear that she is contemplating every option including no deal if the EU digs its heels in the negotiations which will take place between now and October.”

The DUP MP went on to say: “Varadkar would be far better to take a leaf out of his predecessors book and work with the UK in ensuring that our exit from the EU is done in a way to protect his country’s extensive trading links with us rather than engaging in all out war on land and sea and now the air.”

Tory MEP David Bannerman responded to Mr Varadkar’s comments by tweeting: “The most profitable routes for all European airlines are transatlantic routes through British airspace. They would be bankrupted if no aviation deal is done. Ryanair & Air Lingus would also be grounded. Stop this shameful blackmail.”