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Varadkar hits out at British politicians who say they don't want hard border but oppose 'backstop'

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has hit out at British politicians who say they want to avoid a post-Brexit hard border in Ireland but also oppose the so-called ‘backstop’.

Much of the opposition to British Prime Minister Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement with the EU among MPs is over the backstop which is effectively an insurance policy to avoid a hard border.

Brexiteers who oppose it fear that it would see the UK tied in to EU rules indefinitely.

Speaking in an interview at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Mr Varadkar expressed frustration with British politicians who say they don’t want a hard border but also oppose to the backstop.

He told the Bloomberg news agency that the EU is open to compromise with the UK if it were to change its “self-imposed red lines”.

But he insisted the objective is to avoid a hard border and said “the backstop is the means by which we achieve it”.

He added: “So if there is another mechanism, if the UK can come forward with a proposal… that avoids a hard border, then of course we’ll listen to that but unfortunately that’s not what I’m getting.

“I’m hearing from a lot of people, a lot of British politicians and British actors saying of course we’re against a hard border and we’re also against the backstop.

“But the only alternative they can offer to a backstop is a promise to sort it out later or a promise around technologies that don’t exist yet.

“We’re not going to give up a mechanism that we know will work, that’s legally binding,” Mr Varadkar said.

Asked he he had seen examples of the proposed technologies, Mr Varadkar replied: “They don’t exist and nobody’s been able to show them to me.”

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