DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds has said Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is playing a dangerous game by delaying Brexit talks into the new year, saying it will be the Republic’s economy that will suffer the worst.
He was responding after Mr Varadkar told the Dail talks on the border could continue into 2018. He said that although his government wanted to proceed as quickly as possible but that would not be possible ahead of next week’s EU summit.
This week an agreement on progressing the talks into the crucial trade deal negotiations broke down after an intervention by the DUP.
Mr Varadkar acknowledged it was in the Republic’s own interest to see the EU-UK negotiations proceed to their second phase and address post-Brexit trade once the European Council meets.
DUP Westminster leader Nigel Dodds said: “Leo Varadkar’s statement about the Brexit talks continuing into the new year will send more worries through the business and commercial sectors of the Irish Republic than it will in Northern Ireland or the rest of the United Kingdom.
“The longer there is delay in getting onto the second phase of the negotiations about a trade deal, the greater the prospect of a ‘no trade deal’ outcome.
“The Irish Republic would suffer far worse economically from no trade deal than the United Kingdom.
“The Republic of Ireland has £13.4 billion worth of sales to the United Kingdom. It is estimated that tens of thousands of jobs are at stake.
“Mr Varadkar may try to appear calm on the surface but he is playing a dangerous game – not with us but with his own economy.”
DUP MP Ian Paisley suggested a no-deal Brexit could cost the Republic 3.8% of its GDP overnight. Speaking in parliament he said the Irish Government had “acted in very bad faith by dismissing the views of a vast number of people in Northern Ireland on this issue of Brexit”.
The Taoiseach said he intended to speak to the Prime Minister in the coming days.
He added: “I think we should listen to all parties in Northern Ireland and not accept this idea that seems to be gaining prevalence in some parts of London and maybe other places as well that there is only one party in Northern Ireland and that party speaks for everyone.
“I don’t accept that premise, which seems to be accepted by too many people at the moment.”
Belfast Telegraph Digital