The Tánaiste has insisted he has “always been on the same page” as the Taoiseach on Brexit.
It comes after the former British Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab claimed Minister Simon Coveney was open to an exit mechanism for the border backstop before Leo Varadkar overruled him.
Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Maar show, Mr Raab said the Taoiseach ruled out an exit clause because he is “less moderate” than Minster Coveney.
“They have taken this deeply political view on the backstop, which has got nothing to do with the realities of solving a return to the hard border,” he said.
“Now we need to make sure that there is a ladder for them to climb down.”
In a tweet following the broadcast, Minister Coveney rejected the claims.
“For the record, the Taoiseach and I have always been on the same page on Brexit and we remain united and focused on protecting Ireland,” he wrote.
“That includes continued support for the EU/UK agreed Withdrawal Agreement in full – including the backstop as negotiated.”
For the record, Taoiseach & I have always been on the same page on #Brexit & we remain united & focused on protecting Ireland. That includes continued support for the EU/UK agreed WA in full, including the Backstop as negotiated. @RTENewsNow https://t.co/ljmSBtvuNz
— Simon Coveney (@simoncoveney) January 20, 2019
Yesterday meanwhile, Minister Coveney said the Irish Government’s commitment to the agreement, including the backstop, remains “absolute.”
He said any agreement must ensure that Ireland’s open border and the Good Friday Agreement are protected “no matter what.”
Meanwhile, also speaking to Andrew Marr, the Labour Party’s shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer recognised that any deal with the EU will require a backstop.
“I think at this stage, any deal probably does require a backstop, and we have got to recognise that,” he said.
“There are problems with this backstop; there are risks with it that are real but I think that because we are at this stage of the exercise – nearly two years in – the chances now of a deal that doesn’t have a backstop are very, very slim and we have to accept that and proceed from there.”