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Dublin: 12°C Tuesday 18 May 2021

'They wouldn't be forgiven': Varadkar confident EU27 won't veto Brexit extension

The threat of a no-deal Brexit still remains, but the Taoiseach is confident EU leaders will grant a Brexit extension.

Image: Liewig Christian/ABACA/PA Images

TAOISEACH LEO VARADKAR has said it’s possible, but unlikely, that another EU country could veto a proposal from the UK for a longer Brexit extension, but added Ireland doesn’t want an extension that “just allows for more indecision”.

With Theresa May already signalling her wish to extend Brexit until 30 June to avoid the UK crashing out of the EU with no deal next Friday, Varadkar said that any country who vetoes that proposal “wouldn’t be forgiven” for it.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Countrywide earlier, he said: “Obviously we don’t want no deal because of the impact it will have on citizens, businesses, farmers and the agri-food industry.

We want to avoid an extension that just allows for more indecision… I’d prefer to see a longer extension during which the United Kingdom has more time to decide really what future relationship it wants to have with the European Union rather than the alternative which could be rolling extensions.

He was speaking amid increasing frustrations from Europe as to how the UK is handling the Brexit process, ahead of a crunch EU summit this week. 

Varadkar said that countries most at risk from a no-deal Brexit, including Ireland, have asked for “patience and solidarity” from the other EU countries.

“Today we have got that and I think that will continue,” he said.

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So far, the House of Commons has rejected Theresa May’s Brexit deal three times and has failed to support a number of alternatives.

The impasse has led to May reaching out to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to try reach some sort of consensus on Brexit. Chancellor Philip Hammond said today that he expects that the Conservatives will reach “some form of agreement” with Labour.

In lieu of a deal with Labour, it is not clear how May could proceed with getting her Brexit deal through the House of Commons by 30 June, with Varadkar saying his option at this stage is for a longer extension. 

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Sean Murray

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