Time for British to provide clarity on Brexit, says Varadkar

‘They need to make a decision on what relationship they want the UK to have with EU’

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has urged the British government to make its Brexit intentions clear and insisted guarantees given by the British in December on avoiding a hard Border in Ireland must be adhered to in the legal text of the separation agreement between the UK and the EU.

“We need clarity from the UK,” Mr Varadkar told RTÉ’s This Week radio programme. “Or they [the British government] need to make a decision on what relationship they want the UK to have with the EU.”

With indications from London that British prime minister Theresa May is going to set out her Government's policy in speeches in the coming weeks, Mr Varadkar said on Sunday he "totally understands" the frustration expressed by the EU'c chief negotiator Michael Barnier.

Mr Varadkar insisted the British would be held to the guarantees made at December's summit of EU leaders, at which Mrs May promised that any future arrangements between the EU and UK would not lead to a hard Border in Ireland.


“What was agreed in the joint report stands,” Mr Varadkar said.

“What we’re trying to do is ensure that what was agreed in December is now stitched into the legal text of the withdrawal agreement,” he said.

Mr Varadkar added that the transitional agreement “which the UK is very keen to have” is conditional on agreement on the legal text.

Asked if Mrs May’s forthcoming speeches were the British government’s last chance to clarify its position, Mr Varadkar replied: “I wouldn’t say last chance, but you know, time is running out.

It is 20 months now since the Brexit referendum , 20 years since some of them started campaigning for it and we still don't really know what Brexit means, or what the British Government wants Brexit to mean , and time is running out.

"The UK is due to leave the European Union in March 2019, it's a little over a year away, and I think we need clarity and urgency from London."

Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy is Political Editor of The Irish Times