The Irish prime minister (taoiseach) Leo Varadkar has welcomed the Brexit statement made by the UK government at Chequers last weekend. But he stressed his government will not give a detailed response until after the publication of the UK’s Brexit White Paper.
Speaking in parliament in Dublin, Varadkar said he and British Prime Minister Theresa May had a good conversation over the telephone. And he said the approach outlined at Chequers could have an input into talks on the future UK EU relationship.
As reported by the BBC, Varadkar added that if the UK relaxes its red lines, then the EU should be able to do the same and “we are perhaps entering that space”.
The leader of Fianna Fáil, Micheál Martin, argued that credit should be given to May for navigating the UK towards what he termed a “new Brexit realism”.
Martin stressed the importance of unimpeded East West trade to the future of the Irish economy.
Meanwhile, Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald accused the Conservatives of playing for time over Brexit and openly reneging on the backstop negotiated for Ireland.
According to the BBC, McDonald asked Varadkar if his government would stand over the legal text published by the EU in March – which the UK has already rejected as unacceptable as it would separate Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK when it comes to customs tariffs and trade regulations.
The taoiseach replied that he is not hung up on the legal text but what it is intended to achieve, namely a guarantee that there should no hard border in the island of Ireland.
May’s new-look cabinet met for the first time on July 10, after a string of resignations (Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, and Brexit Secretary, David Davis, both quit) over her Brexit strategy left her government in crisis.
Commenting on the resignations, Varadkar said these are “internal matters” for the UK government.
In related news, Bloomberg noted that the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier will be encouraged by at least some member states not to blow the UK’s latest blueprint for its partnership with the bloc “out of the water”. This is according to a European official familiar with the negotiations last week.