Taoiseach Leo Varadkar threatens to halt Brexit talks if hard border issue is not resolved

Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar.
Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar.

Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, has hinted that the Irish government will stop Brexit talks from progressing unless it receives a written guarantee from the British government that there will be no return to a hard border with the North.

Mr. Varadkar made the comments outside the European social summit in Gothenburg on Friday shortly before he was due to have a breakfast meeting with British prime minister, Theresa May.

“We’ve been given assurances that there will be no hard border in Ireland, that there won’t be any physical infrastructure, that we won’t go back to the borders of the past,” said Mr. Varadkar.

“We want that written down in practical terms in the conclusions of phase one," he added.

Mr. Varadkar went on to suggest that British politicians who championed Brexit had not "thought all this through".

“It’s 18 months since the referendum. It’s 10 years since people who wanted a referendum started agitating for one," said the Taoiseach.

“Sometimes it doesn’t seem like they have thought all this through."

He continued: “Britain having unilaterally taken the customs union and single market off the table, before we move to phase two talks on trade we want taken off the table any suggestion that there will be a physical border, a hard border, new barriers to trade on the island of Ireland.”