No deal fear: Varadkar given election delay 'to see Ireland through early days of Brexit'

Mr Varadkar could be handed a grace period by his government partners Fianna Fail, who prop up the Irish prime minister on a confidence and supply basis, in the aftermath of Brexit. Dublin fears Britain leaving the European Union without an agreement could spark a catastrophic economic downturn across the country. Instead of calling for an early general election, Fianna Fail’s finance spokesman said the party would instead support Mr Varadkar’s Fine Gael for a fourth budget under their government pact.

Michael McGrath told Irish broadcaster RTE Fianna Fail would continue to back Mr Varadkar “to see Ireland through the early days of Brexit”.

He described Dublin and London’s relationship as “fraught” after Boris Johnson only held talks with Mr Varadkar six days after winning the keys to Downing Street.

He added the Irish voters would much prefer their politicians to focus on challenges of a “crash out Brexit” instead of posturing for a general election.

Fianna Fail leader Michael Martin has shown “extraordinary leadership” in coming out in support of Mr Varadkar, said Mr McGrath.

He urged Ireland’s finance ministry to take into account the possible consequences of no-deal Brexit if the country is left “staring down the barrel of a gun”.

He said his party would enter into negotiations with Fine Gael in “good faith” in order to make sure significant resources are handed to the industries most exposed by no deal – including agri-food, indigenous manufacturing and companies whose business is mainly located in the UK.

“The minster needs details plans for key supports,” Mr McGrath said. “So businesses will know what supports will be available to them.

“This is a very volatile situation.”

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“Unfortunately, unless the British Government changes their approach on Brexit we are facing managing a no-deal Brexit, which is going to put huge pressure on everybody.”

Phil Hogan, the European Commission’s agriculture chief, reaffirmed Brussels’ position on Monday during a phone call with Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay.

“The UK is committed to a legally operative solution recognising the unique situation of the island of Ireland,” Mr Hogan said.

“It is the responsibility of the UK Government to come forward with proposals that are compatible with the withdrawal agreement.

“The UK Government can be assured that any such proposals will be given appropriate consideration by the EU.”

Mr Johnson today accused Brussels of forming a “terrible collaboration” with Remainer MPs in Westminster attempting to thwart Brexit.

The Prime Minister suggested EU leaders had refused to renegotiate the withdrawal agreement, which they agreed with Theresa May last November, because of a belief that MPs could block no deal.

Speaking live on Facebook, he said: “There’s a terrible collaboration, as it were, going on between people who think they can block Brexit in Parliament and our European friends.

“And our European friends are not moving in their willingness to compromise, they’re not compromising at all on the withdrawal agreement even though it’s been thrown out three times, they’re sticking to every letter, every comma of the withdrawal agreement – including the backstop – because they still think Brexit can be blocked in Parliament.

“The awful thing is the longer that goes on, the more likely it is of course that we will be forced to leave with a no-deal Brexit.

“That’s not what I want, it’s not what we’re aiming for but we need our European friends to compromise. The more they think there’s a chance that Brexit can be blocked in parliament, the more adamant they are in sticking to their position.”

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