Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar admits flaws on BOTH sides in Brexit talks

Leo Varadkar has admitted mistakes were made on both sides in dealing with Brexit.

In an apparent olive branch amid desperate efforts to resolve the Northern Ireland protocol standoff, the returning Irish Prime Minister conceded the rules were “too strict”.

He said he understood unionists’ concerns about loosening ties with the UK and promised to be “flexible and sensible” in talks with UK ministers.

Mr Varadkar’s comments – who became a hate figure during the original Brexit negotiations for his perceived hardline approach – were welcomed by Tory MPs, while Northern Ireland Minister Steve Baker retweeted them.

Mr Varadkar, who became Taoiseach for a second time last month, said he was looking forward to visiting Belfast soon – although his name and likeness recently appeared in threatening graffiti and placards in loyalist areas.

Leo Varadkar has admitted mistakes were made on both sides in dealing with Brexit

Leo Varadkar has admitted mistakes were made on both sides in dealing with Brexit

The apparent olive branch came amid desperate efforts to resolve the Northern Ireland Protocol standoff

The apparent olive branch came amid desperate efforts to resolve the Northern Ireland Protocol standoff

Asked about the negative perception of him within unions, Mr Varadkar said: “I’m sure we’ve all made mistakes in dealing with Brexit.

“There was no roadmap, no manual, it was something we didn’t expect and we all did our best to deal with it.

“Again, I look forward to traveling to Northern Ireland early in the new year, meeting with all parties and reaching out to all parties and all communities to find a solution.”

He added: “One thing I’ve said in the past is that when we drafted the protocol, when it was initially negotiated, maybe it was a little too strict.

“And we have seen the protocol work without being fully enforced.

“And so I think there is room for flexibility and room for change and we are open and ready for that and I know from talking to (European Commission) President (Ursula) von der Leyen and (EC Vice-President) Maros Sefcovic, that’s your position too.

“That is why we are willing to show flexibility and make compromises. We want there to be an agreement.

“And, you know, I’ve spoken to a lot of people over the years who come from a union background in Northern Ireland.

“I understand how you feel about the protocol. They feel it diminishes their place in the Union, that it creates barriers between Britain and Northern Ireland that didn’t exist before.

“And I understand that and I understand that. But that also applies to Brexit.

“Brexit was imposed on Northern Ireland without cross-community agreement, without the support of the majority of the people of Northern Ireland, and one of the good things about the European Union has been that it has broken down barriers and borders between North and South and that has been particularly true for people with a nationalist streak background a great reassurance.

“So I understand that there are two sides to this story.

“Many unionists feel cut off from the UK by the protocol.

“It makes many people from a nationalist background in Northern Ireland feel cut off from the rest of Ireland.

“So there are two sides to this story.”

Mr Varadkar said Brexit is an irreversible reality.

“I accept that – I regret it, but I accept it – and everything we’ve done since, whether it’s the backstop or the protocol, has been an attempt to just deal with that reality and avoid a hard border on our island.” to ensure that human rights are respected and not diminished in Northern Ireland, which is also very important to me, and that the European internal market is also protected, and these are my firm red lines.

The comments of Mr Varadkar - who became a hate figure during the original Brexit negotiations for his perceived harsh treatment - were welcomed by Tory MPs

The comments from Mr Varadkar – who became a hate figure during the original Brexit negotiations for his perceived harsh treatment – were welcomed by Tory MPs

“The backstop, the protocol, were just mechanisms to achieve those goals and as long as we can achieve those goals, I’ll be as flexible and reasonable as I can.”

Power-sharing in Northern Ireland is currently in flux due to a DUP boycott of the Stormont institutions in protest of the protocol.

The region’s largest union party has insisted it will not return to devolved government unless radical changes are made to the trade arrangements that have created economic barriers between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

The EU and the UK are involved in negotiations to reduce the impact of the protocol. It remains to be seen whether a deal between London and Brussels will be enough to convince the DUP to lift their block on power-sharing.

The UK and Irish governments are keen for decentralization to return ahead of the 25th anniversary of Northern Ireland’s Good Friday Peace Agreement in April.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-11594213/Irish-PM-Leo-Varadkar-admits-mistakes-sides-Brexit-talks.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490&ito=1490 Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar admits flaws on BOTH sides in Brexit talks

Emma Colton

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