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Taoiseach Varadkar calls for UK
Leo Varadkar © EU2016 SK

Taoiseach Varadkar calls for UK-EU customs union

04/08/17Government

Ireland’s Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has called for “unique solutions” to preserve the relationship between the UK and the EU after Brexit.

Speaking in Belfast during his first official visit to Northern Ireland, he raised the prospect of a bilateral UK-EU customs union.

Varadkar defined Brexit as “the challenge of this generation”.

“Every single aspect of life in Northern Ireland could be affected by Brexit,” he said.

Those who favour a hard Brexit have already had 14 months to come up with a plan, he warned.

“If they cannot, and I believe they cannot, we can then talk meaningfully about solutions that might work for all of us,” he said.

Varadkar proposed two of his own suggestions:

  • The possibility of an EU-UK customs union if the UK wants to remain in the customs union; and
  • A “deep free trade agreement” with the EU if the UK does not want to stay in the single market, with the possibility of its re-joining the European Free Trade Association (EFTA).

The taoiseach referred to the lack of input into the Brexit debate from Northern Ireland due to the collapse of the Stormont executive.

“We need an answer to the question of who we – and others in Europe – talk to in Belfast,” he said. “Who will speak for Northern Ireland and her 1.8 million people?”

Pan European Networks Ltd