Newstalk
Newstalk

15.45 27 Jan 2020


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Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has delivered a warning on Brexit following a meeting with the EU's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier in Dublin today.

Mr Barnier is a member of Fine Gael's European political grouping the EPP, and he arrived in Dublin to discuss Brexit in the middle of an election campaign.

It also comes only days before the UK is scheduled to leave the EU - with Britain's last day in the bloc scheduled for Friday.

Leo Varadkar has made Brexit a key part of his election bid and said today that a good deal is needed if any election promises are to be believed.

He said a good trade deal post-Brexit is necessary to keep the economy here strong.

The Taoiseach said: "The issues that have dominated this election are actually very much interlinked, because only a strong economy and only a favourable Brexit for Ireland will allow us to do all of the things for housing, health and childcare that we all know are necessary ."

Meanwhile, Mr Barnier said he would work with whatever government is in place after the upcoming General Election.

He also praised Mr Varadkar and his government for their work on Brexit to facilitate the UK reaching a withdrawal deal.

Mr Barnier said: "It certainly wouldn't have been possible to reach this agreement without the hard work, passions and unity of everybody here in Ireland [or] without the work of the government, you Leo, Simon Coveney and Helen McIntee, and politicians in the Dáil and the Seanad."

Earlier, speaking to the BBC's political editor Laura Kuenssberg ahead of Mr Barnier's visit, Mr Varadkar suggested the EU has the advantage in the upcoming trade talks on the 'future relationship' with the UK.

He claimed: "We have a population and a market of 450 million people, the UK it's about 60, so if these were two teams up against each other playing football, who do you think has the stronger team?"

He also claimed the UK will not get a "piecemeal" deal, and that any attempt by the UK to '[have] cake and eat it' would not be acceptable to Europe.

Meanwhile, election campaigning will continue across the country today

In Dublin, Fianna Fáil is launching its plans for tackling high insurance costs while the Green Party will host briefings on water quality and rural development today.

Labour, meanwhile, will focus on better pay and job security.

Most party leaders, however, will be spending today preparing for the first big setpiece of the week - a seven-way debate for RTÉ television tonight in Galway.

Reporting by Sean Defoe and Stephen McNeice
Main image: File photo of Michel Barnier and Leo Varadkar. Picture by: Artur Widak/SIPA USA/PA Images

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