Irish premier Leo Varadkar has warned that “time is running out” to get the best outcome for Eire in Brexit negotiations.
During his first visit to Belfast since taking office, he said “every single aspect of life in Northern Ireland could be affected by Brexit”, which is “the challenge of this generation”.
The EU is due to meet in October to decide whether sufficient progress had been made in the first phase of exit talks to allow the negotiations to proceed to the next phase.
He stressed that Northern Ireland’s voice needed to be heard ahead of that crunch decision and urged politicians there to resolve their differences and get power-sharing at Stormont back on track.
Varadkar also urged politicians advocating a hard border between the Republic and Northern Ireland to come up with proposals as to how that would work.-
And he suggested an EU-UK customs union could be one potential solution. “After all, we have one with Turkey. Surely we can have one with the United Kingdom?” he said. If the UK does not want to remain in the single market, it could perhaps agree a deep free trade agreement with the EU and rejoin the European Free Trade Association.
Varadkar pledged his government will do all it can in the negotiations to achieve the best outcomes for peace, freedom, rights and prosperity on the island of Ireland, saying: “At a time when Brexit threatens to drive a wedge between north and south we need to build more bridges and fewer borders.”