EU negotiator says ‘fully behind Ireland’ in any Brexit scenario
The EU will “stand fully behind Ireland” whatever happens with Brexit, chief negotiator Michel Barnier said on Monday during a visit to Dublin.
Barnier also warned Britain that, in case of a no-deal Brexit, the EU would not open trade talks until the question of the Irish border had been resolved.
“We would not discuss anything with the UK until there is an agreement for Ireland and Northern Ireland, as well as citizens’ rights and the financial settlement,” he said.
All three issues are covered by the withdrawal agreement, which was struck between British and EU negotiators in November but has been rejected by the British parliament.
Brexit hardliners oppose provisions in the deal which they fear could end up locking Britain into the EU’s economic embrace and prevent it from striking its own trade deals with countries around the world.
The EU has opposed any renegotiation of the divorce deal but Barnier on Monday said an accompanying political declaration on future trade ties could be reworked “extremely quickly”.
The British government is currently in talks with the opposition Labour Party on a possible compromise that could include a customs union.
Irish Prime minister Leo Varadkar express support for the cross-party talks in London.
“I sincerely hope that it’ll be possible to build sufficient consensus to enable ratification of the withdrawal agreement,” he said.
“We’re open to extending the deadline to allow these discussions to run their course.”