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Varadkar says Ireland is not 'playing chicken' with UK over Brexit negotiations

She said she will ensure there is a meaningful vote on Brexit by 12 March.

Image: Monasse Thierry/ANDBZ/ABACA

Updated Feb 24th 2019, 3:29 PM

LEO VARADKAR HAS said Ireland is not “playing chicken” with the UK as Theresa May confirmed that she will not put a so-called meaningful vote to parliament in the coming week.

Addressing reporters in Egypt, the Taoiseach said the Irish position on Brexit has not changed since day one and that it is the UK’s issue to fix. 

He said: “The decision on when this vote happens in the House of Commons isn’t under my control. I haven’t had a chance to speak to Prime Minister May yet. I will today or tomorrow.

“Let’s not forget this March 29 deadline is a self imposed deadline. It is one that the United Kingdom has imposed on itself. Nobody in Ireland of the EU is threatening no deal.

“This is a situation the UK has created for itself so we are not playing chicken, we are not playing poker, we are just standing by our position which has been solid from day one,” he said.

May said that negotiations with Brussels are continuing and that she intends on bringing the latest deal to the House of Commons by 12 March. 

Speaking in Sharm el Sheikh, May said she doesn’t see the point in extending Article 50 – something which would give the UK more time to exit the EU. 

She said: “I was in Brussels last week. Ministers were in Brussels last week. My team will be back in Brussels again this coming week. They will be returning to Brussels on Tuesday.

“As a result of that we won’t bring a meaningful vote to Parliament this week. But we will ensure that that happens by March 12.

“But it is still within our grasp to leave the European Union with a deal on March 29.”

May faces a number of problems from within her own party. 

Earlier this week  three British cabinet ministers warned that Brexit should be delayed if the UK parliament doesn’t approve a deal.

Amber Rudd, David Gauke and Greg Clark said it would be better to seek to extend Article 50 and delay Britain’s departure rather than crash out of the EU on 29 March with no deal. 

The three ministers acknowledged British Prime Minister Theresa May’s “extraordinary determination and resilience” in working on a deal to leave the EU. 

Addressing this today, May said: “We have around the Cabinet table a collective, not just responsibility, but desire, to actually ensure that we leave the European Union with a deal. That’s what we’re working for and that’s what I’m working for.

“Now, often people talk about the extension of Article 50 as if that will actually solve the issue. Of course it won’t. It defers the point of decision. There comes a point where we need to make that decision.

“Extension of Article 50 doesn’t solve the problem.

“There will always come a point where we have to decide whether we accept the deal that’s been negotiated or not.

“And that will be a decision for every member of Parliament across the House.

“Every member of the Commons will have to face that decision when that point comes.

“The Government will be bringing back, working with the EU, and will want to put a deal to the House of Commons in a meaningful vote.”

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