• STV
  • MySTV

Varadkar moots Brexit delay to give more time for deal

Taoiseach says extending the departure date is one of a number of 'scenarios'.

Leo Varadkar (Laura Hutton/PA)
Leo Varadkar (Laura Hutton/PA) PA Wire/PA Images

Ireland's premier has raised the possibility of delaying Brexit to allow more time to negotiate the UK's exit deal.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said extending the March 29 departure date is one of a number of "different scenarios" that could be pursed if a withdrawal agreement fails to materialise in the coming months.

In an interview with Irish broadcaster TV3, Mr Varadkar also raised the prospect of scheduling an extra EU Council summit this year if sufficient progress is not made by October's crunch meeting.

The autumn summit is seen by many as an effective deadline for a withdrawal treaty to be sealed ahead of ratification by member states.

An exit deal is seemingly still a distance away. The EU and UK remain at odds over the shape of a "backstop" position to maintain free movement at the Irish border, if a wider trade deal is not ultimately agreed, with Prime Minister Theresa May struggling to secure consensus within her own Cabinet.

Mr Varadkar said while his government was making contingency plans for a hard Brexit, he insisted that preparatory work did not include for the provision of infrastructure on the 310-mile frontier with Northern Ireland.

When the UK formally notified the EU in March 2017 of its intention to leave the union - by triggering Article 50 of the Lisbon treaty - a two-year deadline for its exit was automatically set.

Stressing that a no-deal scenario is still hypothetical, Mr Varadkar added: "You'll know that there are a number of different scenarios that could arise if we're in a no-deal situation.

"For example, it is possible to extend Article 50, to allow more time for negotiations to take place. There is the possibility of an interim deal, or a transition period, pending an outcome or final negotiations around the transition period.

"But one of our red lines - and this should be no surprise to anyone - is that we cannot countenance a hard border with physical infrastructure, with customs and checks - all of those things - between Northern Ireland and Ireland.

"That would be an abrogation of the Good Friday Agreement, a solemn agreement we made 20 years ago, and a legal agreement that is registered with the United Nations, signed by the United Kingdom Government."

Outgoing Taoiseach Enda Kenny
Outgoing Taoiseach Enda Kenny Enda Kenny

On the prospect on an additional EU Council summit, something suggested by his predecessor as taoiseach Enda Kenny, Mr Varadkar said: "Enda Kenny in his speech made a very valid point.

"I've heard some people talking about the possibility of a crunch late-night meeting in Brussels in late October, something akin to a last-minute budget compromise or a Fisheries Council.

"That, of course, as he pointed out, will not be the case - because when the EU member states, the 27 of us, discuss Brexit, we discuss it without the UK in the room. So this won't be a drafting session - we'll have to have agreement in advance of the summit in October.

"Enda Kenny suggested that if we aren't in a position to do that, we may need an extra meeting - perhaps in September or October, or even after that, in November. I think that was a very helpful suggestion that will have to be considered.

"(It's) too soon to make a decision on that, but we'll have to consider it in the months ahead."

One account. All of STV.

This field is required. That doesn't look like a valid e-mail format, please check. That e-mail's already in our system. Please try again.
ShowHide
Forgot password?
This field is required. This must be at least 6 characters long. Did you enter your details correctly?
If you've forgotten your details then use the 'Forgot password?' link.
Need to reset your password?

We'll send a link to reset your password to

We've sent you details on how to reset your password

Please check your email and follow the instructions.

Forgotten your email address?

Have you forgotten the email address that you previously joined with? Don't worry, by emailing enquiries@stv.tv we can help.

One account. All of STV.

This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This must be at least 6 characters long.
ShowHide
This field is required. This must be at least 6 characters long.
You must be over 16 to join STV.
This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid date
We need this to check that you live in an STV region.
This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid postcode
Would you like us to email you about our great shows and services from time to time?
We'll only send emails we think you'll like (see example) based on information you have supplied and shows you have watched on STV Player. For details on emails and advertising, see our STV & You page.
Would you like to receive emails from the Scottish Children's Lottery about draws, instant games and competitions?
We support the Scottish Children's Lottery (SCL), which is managed by our colleagues at STV ELM Ltd. You can find out more about the SCL on its website, including its Privacy Policy.

By continuing you agree to our Terms of Use, and understand our Privacy and Cookie Policies.

Upload Profile Picture

Please make sure your image is under 2mb in size and a valid JPG, PNG or GIF.

Are you sure?

Unfortunately, you'll be unable to access our premium content. We’ll be sorry to see you go, but if you change your mind you can rejoin us at any time.

Please verify your STV account

Please verify your STV account using the email we sent you. If you have lost the email, we can send you another one, just click the button below.

Thanks

We've sent you a new verification email.
Please check your email and follow the instructions to verify your account.

Welcome to STV
Thanks for joining us.

Oops!

Sorry, you must be at least 12 years old to place a vote for your Real Hero.

Please review our Voting Terms of Use for more information.

Oops!

Sorry! It seems that you are using a browser that is incompatible with our voting service.

To register your vote please copy the below URL in to your regular mobile browser. We recommend Google Chrome, or Safari.

http://shows.stv.tv/real-heroes/voting

Oops!

Sorry, you seem to have already voted in this category.

Thanks for voting

Now share your vote with friends on your social network

Share on twitter Share on facebook

Cast your vote

Please register or sign in to continue.

Cast your vote

This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid date

Cast your vote

Please fill out this form to cast your vote. As you are under 16 years old you will not create an STV account. Why do we need these details?

This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. That doesn't look like a valid e-mail format, please check.
Location This field is required.
Parental Consent This field is required.

That's you. All that's left is to click the 'Submit Vote' button below. By doing so, you confirm that you and your parent or guardian have read and accept our Voting Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Cookie policy, and that the details you have entered are correct. We'll look after them as carefully as if they were our own.