Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said he was “both surprised and disappointed” after Brexit talks on the Northern Ireland border failed to reach a deal today. A Brexit deal to solve the ‘Irish question’ was done until a last minute intervention from the DUP, the Irish Government has confirmed.
Hopes were high that the UK would sign off on commitment to maintain regulatory convergence in a post-Brexit era. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said he was “surprised” by the UK’s request for more time after initially being told an agreement had been reached. The agreed text between the UK and EU “gave us the assurance we need that even as an unintended consequences there would not be a hard border on the island of Ireland”, he said. However, UK Prime Minister Theresa May was on the verge of formally signing up to the deal but stepped back after a last minute intervention from the DUP.
Huge ramifications for London if Theresa May has conceded that it's possible for part of the UK to remain within the single market & customs union after Brexit. Londoners overwhelmingly voted to remain in the EU and a similar deal here could protect tens of thousands of jobs.
— Sadiq Khan (@SadiqKhan) December 4, 2017
“But the most difficult issue is to maintain the agreement that there will not be a hard border on the island of Ireland. This has been to the absolute forefront of Ireland’s concerns since before the referendum. We do not want a border in the Irish Sea any more than we want a border between Newry and Dundalk, and Letterkenny and Derry.”
Varadkhar confirms an agreement had been done on the record, makes it harder for UK to claim not everything was ready to go
— Laura Kuenssberg (@bbclaurak) December 4, 2017
The Taoiseach said it would not be useful to start pointing fingers. At the same time he noted that the DUP are “just one party in Northern Ireland”. He said the Irish government was representing the attitude taking by the majority of people in the North. Responding to suggestions from DUP representatives that the Irish government is driven by a republican agenda, Mr Varadkar said there is “no hidden agenda. The motivation of the Irish government have always been to try maintain the status quo on the island of Ireland,” he said. The majority of people in Northern Ireland voted to Remain. And the vast majority of people in Northern Ireland voted for the Good Friday Agreement.”
18/05/2017: Theresa May said vote for her to ‘strengthen’ Brexit and stop a ‘coalition of chaos’
04/12/2017: The Tory-DUP ‘coalition of chaos’ has derailed Brexit pic.twitter.com/watfY1ZBXO
— Scott Nelson (@SocialistVoice) December 4, 2017
Mrs May is understood to have broken off from talks with European Commission President Jean-Claude Junker to speak to DUP leader Arlene Foster. The UK had reportedly been prepared to accept that Northern Ireland may remain in the EU’s customs union and single market in all but name. But Mrs Foster then said her party “will not accept any form of regulatory divergence” that separates Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK.
“During the call it was made plain to the PM that the DUP had significant concerns about the deal being discussed that gave concessions to the Dublin government,” said the BBC’s political editor Laura Kuenssberg. “I understand Mrs Foster told Theresa May that she would not be able to support such a deal. It’s been suggested too that there are 20 or so Conservative MPs who had serious misgivings about the compromises that were understood to be on the table.”
The reason for today’s failure in the Brexit talks is the grubby deal the Tories did with the DUP after the election. Each passing day provides further evidence that @Theresa_May’s Government is completely ill-equipped to negotiate a successful deal for our country.
— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) December 4, 2017
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said: “The real reason for today’s failure is the grubby deal the government did with the DUP after the election.” He added that “Labour has been clear from the outset that we need a jobs-first Brexit deal that works for the whole of the United Kingdom”.
Conservative MPs emerging from a Downing Street briefing on the talks said they had been told Mrs May had not agreed the proposal on regulatory alignment put forward by the Irish government.
Leading Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg said that the Conservatives were “as one” with the DUP on the importance of keeping the United Kingdom together, and the mood among Tory MPs in the meeting was “contented, not divisive or unhappy”. Backbench Remain supporter Anna Soubry said no Conservative MP wanted Northern Ireland treated differently from the rest of the UK, which she said would be “a gift” to the Scottish National Party. The “simple solution” would be for the whole of the UK to remain in the single market and customs union, she added.
You could almost say we need strong and stable government rather than this coalition of chaos
— Owen Jones🌹 (@OwenJones84) December 4, 2017
How can the UK be held to ransom by 10 DUP Neanderthals who :
1) Believe rape victims should not be allowed abortions
2) No gay marriage
3) Have strong links to terrorist Ulster group
4) Are ambiguous on climate change
There are only 2 solutions to Brexit and NI border issue – stay in the Single Market & Customs Union or #Remain An invisible Border staffed by Leprechauns is not a solution.
The DUP tail is wagging the Tory dog #brextremistchaos
Today, powered by its readers and contributors, from its cyber eyries in Ireland and the centres of the Irish Diaspora The Eagle casts its Cold Eye on Life and Death and much in between.