Brexit warning: Ireland lays down law with threat to new UK PM – 'May's deal is final'
Mr Coveney, the deputy Irish prime minister, said the European Union would continue to block any attempts to renegotiate the 585-page draft withdrawal agreement. After meeting Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, in Brussels, he said the bloc were instead willing to alter the political declaration on the future relationship to help avoid a no-deal Brexit. Leo Varadkar will instantly warn either Boris Johnson or Jeremy Hunt their predecessor’s divorce deal will not be reopened on an expected trip to Dublin, Mr Coveney also revealed.
He told reporters: “The EU position on Brexit remains consistent, we stand ready to work with a new British prime minister as soon as they are in place to try to ensure we have an orderly and managed Brexit, and to ensure we avoid a no-deal Brexit.
“But I think it is very clear, and stated again by Chancellor Merkel today, that the withdrawal agreement is the withdrawal agreement, there are other things that can change and be adapted – particularly the future relationship declaration.
“But the withdrawal agreement is not up for renegotiation, both Michel Barnier and I were very clear on that today.”
Brussels expects the Tory leadership winner to make quick visits to Dublin, Paris and Berlin to test the waters on their Brexit strategy within weeks of taking office.
Mr Varadkar “is looking forward to meeting the new British prime minister” in Dublin and learning about their Brexit plans, according to Mr Coveney.
He said: “The Taoiseach has said is that he is looking forward to meeting the new British prime minister, whomever that may be, hopefully welcome them to Dublin and hearing what they have to say on the approach to take on Brexit.
“But I think the Taoiseach will be very clear in that meeting that withdrawal agreement isn’t going to be renegotiated.”
Mr Coveney refused to speculate on whether the European Commission will force Dublin to implement border checks in the event of no deal.
He said Ireland would implement checks on food products in a way doesn’t “post a security risk or undermine a peace process on the island of Ireland”.
Dublin’s plans “involve mechanisms that can deliver reassurances to both the European Commission and other member states that we will protect the integrity of the shared single market”, he added.
Mr Coveney has previously stated Ireland “will not put checks on the border, or close to it”.
But EU rules state that checks must be carried out on livestock and animal products “at their point of entry” making Dublin’s plans tricky to pull off.
Earlier today German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that if a solution for the Irish border can be found inside the political declaration on future trade ties between Britain an the EU, the controversial Irish backstop can effectively be overwritten.
She said: “The withdrawal agreement is the withdrawal agreement.
“But the moment that a solution for the management of the border is found in the future relationship — so for the European Union’s future ties to Britain — which basically squares the circle — on the one hand I have no physical border but on the other hand the EU single market ends — that satisfies both questions, then the backstop will be overwritten, so to speak.”
She added: “This means the task is to draft future relations that way and perhaps to draft them more specifically and better and more precisely than so far.”