THE next British Prime Minister is going to face a “very serious reality check” on Brexit, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has warned.
Mr Varadkar said that both contenders in the Conservative leadership race Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt are in campaign mode and politicians in such a contest “tend to campaign in poetry”.
He added: “When you get into office you govern in prose.”
Both Mr Johnson and Mr Hunt have made remarks suggesting that the Brexit negotiations could be reopened, something that the EU has ruled out.
It’s been reported that Tánaiste Simon Coveney has privately criticised both men saying they’re having a “disingenuous debate” on Brexit.
Mr Varadkar was asked about these remarks by Newstalk’s Pat Kenny.
He replied: “I suppose I’d put it a different way.
“Politicians when they’re in campaign mode – and both of those men are in campaign mode – tend to campaign in poetry, in simple terms and high level messages.
“When you get into office you govern in prose.
“And I imagine whoever is the new prime minister is going to face a very serious reality check when they sit down with their officials and civil servants to be fully briefed on the realities of Brexit if they don’t know them already.”
Mr Varadkar pointed to suggestions by Mr Johnson that issues like trade and the border could be sorted out during the transition phase and said he is “incorrect” to say this.
However, this transition phases only comes into force if the Withdrawal Agreement is passed.
Mr Varadkar said: “That is the kind of reality check that the new prime minister is going to hear all about from their officials and advisers on the 26 or 27 of July.”
He also said: “We’re going to have to hear from the new prime minister.
“The first thing you do when somebody gets a job is give them a fair hearing. I know talking to the other prime ministers and presidents in European countries that’s what we’ll do.”
Mr Varadkar said Ireland will have to defend the EU Single Market as it protects “our businesses, our livelihoods and our prosperity”.
He said: “We’re going to want to protect the single market and make sure that Ireland doesn’t become a back-door to the Single Market to the UK.
Mr Varadkar warned of “huge difficulties” if a BSE cow from Britain or chlorinated chicken from America ended up in France after coming through a back door in Ireland.
He was asked how Ireland would police this and where checks would take place, if as the government has said, they won’t happen at the border.
Mr Varadkar said: “They’re the kind of things that we’re trying to work out with the European Commission at the moment and we don’t have a perfect solution.”
He said the best solution would be for the UK to remain in the EU. He said the second best solution would be for Britain to stay in the single market and the customs union “but they say they’re not willing to do that”.
He said “the other best solution is a backstop – either a UK-wide backstop or a Northern Ireland backstop – we don’t mind which one it is and they haven’t been able to get a majority for that at the moment.
“So any solution is going to be inferior to those three solutions.”
Mr Varadkar said: “The kind of things we’re looking at and we’re proposing for example is that the entire island of Ireland would be treated as the same when it comes to agriculture and food.
“That we’d be a single epidemiological zone and any SPS checks as they call them would happen at the ports in… so products and animals coming in from Britain to the island of Ireland.”
He added: “It doesn’t solve the tariffs problem. The tariffs will apply.”