Published: Wed, April 03, 2019
Finance | By Kristine Clayton

Brexit an opportunity for Irish unity debate, says Mary McAleese

Brexit an opportunity for Irish unity debate, says Mary McAleese

"The European Union can't be a long-term hostage to the political crisis in Britain", Macron said.

Speaking alongside Irish counterpart Leo Varadkar outside the Elysee Palace in Paris ahead of their meeting, he said: "Let me repeat this - our priority is the good functioning of the European Union and single market".

Irish prime minister Leo Varadkar said on Tuesday that the European Union should be open to "any proposals" that United Kingdom prime minister Theresa May might bring forward to resolve the Brexit impasse.

"We have instead now this opportunity to develop a wholly fresh focus on the future, making it a place of transcendence, where multiple identities can be respected, be accommodated, can grow to become one community, gathered around the principles of the Good Friday Agreement and the European Union".

"If the British Government refuse to follow through on that commitment that they have made well then, of course, we've to speak to the EU Commission about how we respond to that and that was always going to be left to the last number of weeks".

"We have to find a way of ensuring that we protect the single market's integrity and that we avoid physical infrastructure on the (Irish) border", Coveney told parliament ahead of Varadkar's meetings with the leaders of France and Germany this week.

"If the United Kingdom is not capable, nearly three years after the referendum, of coming forward with a solution that is supported by a majority, it will have effectively chosen a no-deal exit on its own", Macron said.

He reiterated that any long extension would involve the United Kingdom participating in the upcoming European Parliament elections.

But he again reiterated his opposition to creating a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, for fear that it could jeopardise peace in the British province.

But he again warned "we can not avoid failure for them", and will this evening discuss with his Irish counterpart the potential consequences of a no deal Brexit. "However, there is still time for the prime minister to come to the European Council with proposals - proposals that are credible, and have a clear pathway to success", he said.

Macron met Varadkar, the Irish taoiseach, to discuss no-deal plans for the Irish border as well as how to handle any extension request from Theresa May. "We need to be open to any proposals that she may bring forward to us", adding that as things stood Britain was heading towards a no-deal exit.

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