Relations between the British and Irish Governments "not good", says Varadkar 1 month ago

Relations between the British and Irish Governments "not good", says Varadkar

"There is an atmosphere of distrust."

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has described current relations between the British and Irish Governments as "not good".

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The Tánaiste made the comments after UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said on Tuesday (17 May) that she intends to introduce legislation in the coming weeks to make changes to the Northern Ireland Protocol.

This followed DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson stating in recent weeks that his party will not form an Executive in Stormont until issues with the Protocol are resolved.

European Union officials, meanwhile, have said that "renegotiation is not an option", stating that solutions can be found without changing the post-Brexit deal.

Varadkar was asked on Newstalk Breakfast on Wednesday about how strained relations currently are between the British and Irish Governments.

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"Well, they're not good quite frankly. It's a far cry from 2011 or 2012 when I suppose relations were at their best," he responded.

"Since then, Brexit has happened and the refusal of the British Government to honour its agreements - to honour the withdrawal agreement, including the Protocol - has put diplomatic relations in a very difficult place."

However, the Tánaiste said that Ireland will be "the grown-ups in the room" and will engage with the British Government through the EU to try to come up with solutions to the UK's issues with the post-Brexit deal.

"But it's a difficult position to be in because just like all European capitals, and all European Governments, we have difficulty knowing whether we can trust this British Government,” Varadkar added.

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"If we make an agreement with them, will they honour it?

"If we make concessions, will they make concessions back in return?

"That's how negotiations tend to work or will they just bank the concessions that we make and then look for more."

Later in the programme, the Tánaiste said there is "an atmosphere of distrust" between Britain and Europe.

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"That's an understandable atmosphere because this is a British Government that has broken its agreements, is openly talking about violating international law," he explained.

"There's a big concern in European capitals including Dublin that, like I say, any concession that we might make could be banked and we'll get nothing in return.

"I think the British Government needs to do a lot of work really to restore trust and again also needs to bear in mind the result of the elections in Northern Ireland."

Varadkar told Newstalk Breakfast he believed the Protocol is working as there is no hard border between North and South.

"The integrity of the single market is protected, the Republic of Ireland's place in that market which is really important for us in terms of jobs,” he said.

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"Our economy is protected and North and South trade is doing better than ever before.

“We also had Assembly elections in Northern Ireland only a week or so ago.

"And the vast majority of people elected to that Assembly don't want the protocol scrapped.

"Maybe modified, maybe changed, maybe improved, but certainly don't want it scrapped or deleted."

Varadkar was asked if he understands Unionists' frustration with the Protocol.

Unionists believe checks and paperwork for certain goods imported into Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK are damaging the North's economy.

The Tánaiste said he did understand their frustration but added this was a consequence of Brexit as opposed to the Protocol.

"There were going to be checks somewhere and there were going to be additional costs and additional regulatory burdens no matter what.

"Brexit causes checks and costs and bureaucracy."

Main image via Sam Boal / RollingNews.ie