Varadkar and Tusk: We will prepare for a no-deal Brexit

The Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, and the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, have both agreed to step up their preparations for a no-deal Brexit scenario.

The two spoke yesterday, December 10, after British Prime Minister Theresa May decided to cancel a vote that was due to happen today in the country’s parliament.

The vote was on whether or not to accept the withdrawal agreement between Britain and the European Union, but May postponed it amidst widespread feeling that she lacked the support to have it passed, and would face a heavy defeat.

In a telephone conversation, Varadkar and Tusk also agreed that the withdrawal agreement was the only possible deal, and could not be renegotiated.

Tusk expressed the same sentiment over Twitter, where he said: “We will not renegotiate the deal, including the backstop, but we are ready to discuss how to facilitate UK ratification. As time is running out, we will also discuss our preparedness for a no-deal scenario.”

Tusk added that he would be calling a European Council meeting on Thursday to discuss Brexit.

May will be meeting with European leaders before that, to try and get concessions on a number of issues which are preventing her agreement from being passed in parliament, including the Northern Irish backstop, which is a major source of contention for hardline Brexiteers.

The backstop, which is designed to prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland, is opposed by those who believe that it keeps the UK in a customs union with the EU, but without any say in Europe’s decision-making process.

The backstop arrangement is particularly maligned by Democratic Unionist Party members, May’s partners in the coalition government, who had said they would vote the withdrawal agreement down.