UK must honour guarantee of no hard border in all Brexit scenarios: Varadkar
The UK Government has to stand by its cast iron guarantee that there will be no border on the island of Ireland, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said.
A special Brexit cabinet meeting on Wednesday discussed ways to step up Ireland’s preparations for a hard Brexit.
Speaking in Co Kerry, Mr Varadkar said that a no-deal Brexit would be a “nightmare scenario” and that the UK should honour its commitments to ensure there is no infrastructure at the Irish border.
He said: “The important thing is that we all work really hard to avoid a scenario where this is a no-deal Brexit, I still think that is very unlikely.
“I think we can have a withdrawal agreement with a backstop that avoids a hard border and I think that under the terms of the future relationship, we can have a relationship that is so close that there is no need for borders between north or south or east and west.
“In that nightmare scenario, that doomsday scenario where there is a no-deal Brexit, it won’t just be about our commitments, it will be about the commitment of others, the UK has given us a cast iron guarantee there will be no hard border and no physical infrastructure on the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland and we expect them to honour that in all scenarios.”
Mr Varadkar was asked about the Irish government’s plans if the UK crashed out of the EU with no agreement.
He told the media that there are plans in place.
“In many ways the plan’s actually much the same, the central case scenario that we’re planning for is one where there’s a transition period for us to prepare after the UK leaves the EU,” he said.
“Essentially what it is is an acceleration of the worst case scenario, we would be looking to do everything that we have two years to do in the space of a few months.
“And that would be an enormous challenge, not just for us but even more so for the UK, for France and Belgium and the Netherlands.
“And that’s why I think everyone knows we need an orderly agreement.”
Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald said Mr Varadkar must stand solidly on his demands for no hard border post-Brexit.
“I’m concerned the Taoiseach might be stepping back from (the) backstop (position) or conceding it.
“Last December we were told the backstop was watertight, bulletproof, 100%.
“The British Government reneged on that from day one.”