Politics

Varadkar confesses EU likely to back down to Britain and agree to new Brexit grace period

Brexit grace period extension discussed by Leo Varadkar

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Tanaiste of Ireland Leo Varadkar claimed he and the European Commission would be willing to work through the difficulties of the Northern Ireland protocol. While speaking to Justin Webb of the Today Programme, Mr Varadkar claimed it was likely the UK would request another extension to the Brexit grace period once the first one comes to an end in October. He also added the EU would be open to this as he reflected on the difficulties of the Northern Ireland protocol.

While speaking to Justin Webb of the Today Programme, Mr Varadkar claimed it was likely the UK would request an extension to the Brexit grace period.

He also added the EU would be open to this as he reflected on the difficult situation Northern Ireland was placed into because of Britain’s withdrawal from the bloc.

Mr Webb said: “October is a key month as the grace period comes to an end in this month.

“What chance do you think it will be extended?”

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Mr Varadkar answered: “It hasn’t been requested yet.

“But I think there is a high probability that it will happen and we are certainly open to it.

“We do think that we need to create some space for further talks and further negotiations about how we can make the protocol work.

“I was in Northern Ireland last week and had a good chance to talk to the business community there.”

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Mr Varadkar went into greater detail about some of the benefits and drawbacks of the Northern Ireland protocol.

He said: “There are a lot of benefits from the protocol, north-south trade has increased a lot in both directions.

“It has strengthened the Northern Ireland economy and they are reporting record levels of interest in people investing in Northern Ireland because they have this unique access both to the British market and the European single market.

“But it is also causing real problems, disruptions around some goods getting into Northern Ireland.

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“There has been some additional costs and bureaucracy and that is more likely to get worse than better if we don’t negotiate some solutions.

“We are very open to doing that and so is the European Commission.”

He closed by saying: “I can’t speak for the entire European Commission but if the reasoning for extending the Brexit grace period was to allow for deep and meaningful talks on how we can make the protocol more workable, it would probably be favourably received.”

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