Leo Varadkar confirms a Brexit deal on Irish border was in place before DUP phone call

Catherine Neilan
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The UK "agreed a text on the border that met our concerns", Varadkar said (Source: Getty)

Leo Varadkar has confirmed that a deal on the Irish border had been agreed by both the UK and European Union - before talks broke down today.

During a press conference, which took place three hours after schedule, the Taoiseach said the UK had "agreed a text on the border that met our concerns". This was the agreement that there would be "regulatory alignment" between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland after Brexit, which was presented as a solution to avoid a physical border.

Varadkar said he then spoke with Jean Claude Juncker and Donald Tusk "and confirmed Ireland's agreement to that text".

The EU27 leader added: "I am surprised and disappointed that the UK government is not in a position to agree to what was approved today”

Visibly downbeat, he said the issue of the hard border was "the most difficult issue we faced... this is not a new issue, it has been to the absolutely forefront of Ireland’s concerns... there is no hidden agenda here.”

He declined to comment on whether Arlene Foster's phone call with the Prime Minister had upset the proceedings.

"I don’t think it would be helpful for me to ascribe any blame. It is evident that things broke down, became problematic during the lunch in Brussels,” Varadkar told reporters

However, he did note it was the "responsibility of any Prime Minister... to ensure they can follow through on agreements that they make."

While he said he accepted more time was needed to get a deal in place, Varadkar insisted there was "no need to change the text", saying he saw no problem with any of the phrases“convergence”, “no divergence” or “regulatory alignment”.

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