Speaking outside Belfast’s Hillsborough Castle, where negotiations were held that led to the Good Friday peace agreement, Varadkar said there were a number of ways a no-deal Brexit could still be avoided before the October 31 deadline.
“There are many ways by which a no deal can be avoided. Either by the ratification of the withdrawal agreement, a further extension or revocation of Article 50,” Varadkar said.
He added that negotiations with Britain would continue regardless: “It doesn’t end on the 31st of October. If we have no deal, we’re [still] going to have to talk.”
Varadkar’s comments come at a time when hopes of a negotiated agreement before the October 31 withdrawal date are diminishing.
Ireland has continued to back an existing withdrawal agreement negotiated by former British prime minister Theresa May, which includes a “backstop” insurance mechanism to ensure no return to a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland after Brexit.
Incoming British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has demanded the backstop be removed. Varadkar reiterated the EU’s stance that the withdrawal agreement would not be reopened to negotiation.
Representatives of the EU’s 27 members were informed by the European Commission on Tuesday that there was currently no basis for talks with Britain to be restarted, according to diplomats. The briefing followed a meeting last week with Johnson’s EU envoy, David Frost.
Edited by Emmanuel Yashim