DOWNING Street said Ireland had no power to stop British planes flying over Ireland – in a furious rebuke to the Irish PM’s threat.
Leo Varadkar issued the extraordinary warning amid growing fears of a no-deal Brexit.
PA:Press Association Irish PM Leo Varadkar is unhappy with the proposed Brexit deal
But a spokesman for Theresa May shot back this morning – saying he was ill-informed.
In a fiery slap-down, a Downing Street spokesman said: “It’s wrong to claim that Ireland could simply stop the UK from flying over its land as a result of Brexit.
“The reason why we say that is because over flight rights are not guaranteed by the EU – rather by the multilateral treaty which both ourselves and Ireland are signed up to.”
“It’s something that’s agreed by a treaty and regardless of it we think we will secure a deal which will maintain our aviation access.”
AFP Theresa May is not taking the Irish threat seriously
Mr Varadkar said his air ban would be a tit-for-tat action in the event of Mrs May cutting Irish fishermen’s access to our waters.
But Ireland could only block British planes by quitting the treaty.
The UK and Ireland also have a deal that RAF jets will intervene in a doomsday scenario.
Because the Irish do not have fast fighter jets, they would rely on UK planes in the event of a Russian attack or terror hijack.
PA:Press Association A British F-35B Lightning Fighter… which Ireland would depend on
Responding to The Sun’s front page story on his threat yesterday, Mr Varadkar said: “I don’t get bothered about what appears in British tabloids.
“I am always of the view that if somebody engages in name calling it is probably because they don’t want to talk about the substance.
“I am not the slightest bit concerned about some of that language that we are seeing coming out of London.
“What matters really is what happens between the Governments – the 27 Governments of the EU, the institutions (and the UK).
EPA Varadkar with EU President Jean-Claude Juncker
“That is all very grown up and civilised.
“Of course there are going to be twists and turns along the way but we are all working very hard to come up with a solution.”
Varadkar did though insist he thought a solution was still possible after Theresa May’s speech this week in Belfast.
He said: “I am very confident that we will avoid a ‘no deal’ hard Brexit scenario.
Theresa May demands new deal from EU on Irish border backstop as Brexit white paper row escalates
“Nevertheless, we must prepare for that possibility no matter how remote it is.
“But if we are going to come up with a solution, a withdrawal agreement with a transition period with a framework for a new relationship with a back-stop (for Northern Ireland), time is short.