Sunday 21 October 2018

Key to UK's future 'lies in Dublin' as EU chief gives Leo a Brexit veto

Donald Tusk offered a hand of friendship to Leo Varadkar
Donald Tusk offered a hand of friendship to Leo Varadkar

Ireland has been handed a veto over the Brexit talks in an extraordinary show of support from the EU.

The negotiations will not be allowed move into the second phase this month unless Taoiseach Leo Varadkar gives the green light.

In a move that is likely to incense Brexiteers, the President of the EU Council, Donald Tusk, told reporters in Dublin: "Let me say very clearly: if the UK's offer is unacceptable for Ireland, it will also be unacceptable for the EU.

"I realise that for some British politicians this may be hard to understand. But such is the logic behind the fact that Ireland is an EU member while the UK is leaving.

"This is why the key to the UK's future lies - in some ways - in Dublin, at least as long as Brexit negotiations continue."

UK Prime Minister Theresa May is this weekend trying to finalise a formula of words on the future of the Border, which will be presented to EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on Monday.

Talks between the UK and the EU's Brexit taskforce have made major progress on ways of recognising the "unique circumstances of the island of Ireland" in recent days - but sources in Dublin said there is still "a distance to travel".

It is understood Mr Varadkar plans to call a special Cabinet meeting early on Monday morning to discuss the situation.

The Government remains concerned that the UK has failed to put forward any workable suggestions for how a hard border can be avoided if the North leaves the customs union and single market.

Speaking alongside Mr Tusk, the Taoiseach said: "I want to make progress but I have to be absolutely clear, the EU27 cannot declare sufficient progress without firm and acceptable commitments on the Border."

Mr Tusk's visit to Dublin attracted all the major news outlets from the UK, who are now reporting extensively on the Border issue for the first time since the Brexit referendum.


It was expected former Polish Prime Minister Mr Tusk would give his firm backing to the Irish cause, but few expected him to offer up ultimate power over the next phase of the talks.

"We have agreed today that, before proposing guidelines on transition and future relations to the leaders, I will consult the Taoiseach if the UK's offer is sufficient for the Irish Government," he said.

Mr Tusk said the UK's decision to leave the EU had created uncertainty for millions of people but "nowhere is this more visible than here".

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