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Leo Varadkar: No-deal Brexit is not 'unavoidable'

Varadkar was speaking during a visit to Northern Ireland today.

Leo Varadkar speaking in Hillsborough Castle earlier today.
Leo Varadkar speaking in Hillsborough Castle earlier today.
Image: Liam McBurney/PA Wire/PA Images

TAOISEACH LEO VARADKAR said today that he doesn’t think a no-deal Brexit is “unavoidable”, even as concerns grow that the UK is on course to crash out of the EU on 31 October. 

Speaking during his visit to Belfast today, Varadkar said that he didn’t accept that no-deal was “unavoidable”. 

“There are many ways by which no-deal can be avoided, either at the ratification of the withdrawal agreement, further extension or revocation of Article 50,” he said. 

Since taking over as UK prime minister, Boris Johnson has taken a more hardline approach to diplomacy with the EU, including with Ireland, prompting concerns that a no-deal Brexit was becoming more likely than a negotiated UK exit from the EU. 

“There is always room for talks and negotiations,” he added. The EU, he added, has always been willing to make clarifications or make changes to the political declaration element of the Withdrawal Agreement. 

Varadkar also re-iterated that he had invited Johnson to Dublin for discussions on Brexit. 

He also warned that, whatever happens, Brexit doesn’t end on 31 October. 

“If we have no deal, we’re going to have to talk,” Varadkar said. “We are still in discussions with the European Commission about how to deal with a no-deal Brexit.”

Tonight, Varadkar will take part in a leaders debate as part of the Féile an Phobail festival with Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald, DUP MP Gregory Campbell and Fianna Fáil’s Brendan Smith, alongside representatives of Northern Ireland’s main parties. 

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson visited Northern Ireland last week for talks with the region’s main parties during a tour of the UK.

Northern Ireland is expected to be hardest hit by Brexit, while the issue of the border and the backstop has been a major sticking point in negotiations between the EU and the UK. 

In a statement today, DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds said: “With the clock counting down towards 31 October, it is time for Dublin and Brussels to engage constructively and work for a deal which respects the constitutional and economic integrity of the United Kingdom.”

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