Varadkar's claim over airspace restrictions '˜shameful blackmail'

Leo Varadkar's claim that UK planes could be banned from flying over Irish airspace in the event of a hard Brexit has been dismissed by one Conservative MEP as 'shameful blackmail'.

Wednesday, 18th July 2018, 10:09 pm
Updated Wednesday, 18th July 2018, 11:13 pm
Leo Varadkar speaks to the media after his cabinet's 'away day' at Derrynane House, Co Kerry

The taoiseach’s remarks have provoked a fierce backlash on social media, with many people pointing out that Ireland would be the greatest loser in any tit-for-tat policy on aviation rights.

Mr Varadkar made his comments during a press briefing in Co Kerry on Wednesday.

TV3 reported him as saying: “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.”

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

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.”

Tory MEP David Bannerman responded to the 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.”

DUP MLA Christopher Stalford also responded on Twitter. He said: “Hilarious! Does he actually think anyone with half an ounce of sense or self-respect would be bullied by the likes of this?”