'One of my better days in politics' – Varadkar says draft Brexit deal 'satisfactory on all key Irish priorities'

TAOISEACH Leo Varadkar has said the Brexit deal is “even stronger” than what was agreed between the EU and the UK last December.

The deal has met Ireland’s priorities – including on avoiding a hard border on the island, Mr Varadkar said.

Asked about whether the deal was “bullet proof” on the maintenance of the soft border – which was how he characterised the deal reached last year – Mr Varadkar said the deal was “even stronger”.

The draft deal stipulates that the backstop will remain in place until a better solution is found and can only be revoked by mutual agreement.

Mr Varadkar said the deal was not an “end point” and noted it would now be subject to intense scrutiny across Europe and here.

He acknowledged there is a difficult road ahead for the deal to pass muster in the UK parliament.

Asked about the uphill battle facing Mrs May to get the deal through parliament Mr Varadkar said it would not be appropriate for the Irish Government to lobby UK politicians but said he would be willing to speak to DUP leader Arlene Foster who signalled earlier that the party will not be in a position to vote for the deal.

Mr Varadkar said that Ireland’s priorities – including need to protect the Good Friday Agreement and the Common Travel Area – became EU priorities throughout the process.

Ireland now has the insurance policy it needed on the border in the event that a better alternative solution cannot be found, he said.

He praised Mrs May for her commitment to the Good Friday Agreement and again reached out to the Unionists in Northern Ireland to say the Irish approach was never meant to be a threat to them.

Asked to sum up his mood following a tense day in which all eyes were on Downing Street where the future of the deal faced its first difficult test Mr Varadkar said it was “pretty good”.

“This is one of the better days in politics,” he said.

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