Tuesday 6 August 2019 1:50 pm

Michael Gove rubbishes Irish PM Leo Varadkar's claims over Brexit talks

The UK government has accused the EU of refusing to budge on Brexit negotiations, despite Ireland’s leader claiming there was “always room for talks”. 

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar told the BBC he was confident a no-deal Brexit could still be avoided, despite Prime Minister Boris Johnson stressing the UK will leave the European Union “do or die”, come 31 October.

Read more: Downing Street challenges EU to ‘change stance’ on Brexit

Varadkar added that he had invited the UK’s new leader to Dublin for talks “on the basis of no pre-conditions” and that he stood by that offer. 

Varadkar said:  “There are many ways by which a no deal can be avoided, either through ratification of the withdrawal agreement, or further extension or revocation of Article 50.

“There are number of ways no deal can be avoided on 31 October, [I am] certainly not fatalistic about that.

“Our position is that the withdrawal agreement, including the backstop is closed, but there is always room for talks and negotiations. We have said can certainly make changes to the political declaration, and we have demonstrated before to offer clarifications as we did at the request of Prime Minister May in the past.” 

But de facto deputy prime minister Michael Gove argued that if the EU is serious about averting a no-deal Brexit, talks must include the backstop. He stressed that the agreement struck under the old regime had failed to get backing in the Commons. 

“We can’t have a deal that doesn’t command the confidence of the government, the parliament and the country and that is why we have been clear with the European Union that we need a new approach,” he responded.

Read more: Why free ports could turn Brexit to our economic advantage

“We stand ready to engage with EU to negotiate in good faith… We will put all our energy into making sure we can secure that good deal. 

“At the moment it’s the EU that seems to be saying they’re not interested, they are simply saying ‘no we don’t want to talk’. Well I think that’s wrong and sad. It’s not in Europe’s interest.”

Main image credit: Getty

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