Near Irish border, Brexit drama is followed with alarm

Taoiseach: Brexit deal only way to avoid a hard border

Taoiseach: Brexit deal only way to avoid a hard border

Speaking about the possibility of a no-deal scenario, the prime minister stressed that it would be extremely difficult to avoid post-Brexit hard border on the island of Ireland.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar downplayed the prospects of the European Union countenancing amendments to a text that has taken two years to develop.

But Mr Varadkar says there simply isn't time to make changes.

As Prime Minister Theresa May faces a struggle to get parliamentary support for the draft deal struck with European Union negotiators, Mr Varadkar said Ireland's preparations for a no-deal Brexit continued.

"I think it is very hard to start making amendments without everyone wanting to make amendments and you could see the whole thing unravel", he said.

Acknowledging Mrs May has "quite a battle" to get the draft document through the House of Commons, Mr Varadkar said: "She is someone who has shown enormous resilience in the past".

Ireland's PM said his government would find it very difficult to avoid imposing a hard border on Northern Ireland if Britain crashes out of the EU.

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"I certainly don't think it could be re-negotiated in the period that's left - we're only a few months away from Brexit now".

But he said that would require the United Kingdom requesting an extension to Article 50 and he did not think that they would do so.

"The Irish government could only ever seek to influence the process, they cannot manage the internal affairs of the Tory party", he said.

Mr Varadkar said the Irish Government was "continuing to make preparations" for a no-deal Brexit.

"Brexiteers who have championed the cause of British political sovereignty would have brought about the dissolution of this union and therefore would have inflicted a terminal blow to the sovereignty of this country which is everything, to give you the benefit of the doubt, that you were campaigning against when you voted for Brexit".

Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said that remained the case, despite Varadkar's warning, and that if it looked like Britain was heading towards a no-deal departure, then both sides would have to look at ways in which a hard border could be avoided.

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