‘Hallowe’en is not a big European feast – so there’s no big deal about new Brexit deadline’ – Taoiseach

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‘Hallowe’en is not a big European feast – so there’s no big deal about new Brexit deadline’ – Taoiseach


British Prime Minister Theresa May leaves after a news conference following an extraordinary European Union leaders summit to discuss Brexit, in Brussels, Belgium April 11, 2019. REUTERS/Yves Herman TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
British Prime Minister Theresa May leaves after a news conference following an extraordinary European Union leaders summit to discuss Brexit, in Brussels, Belgium April 11, 2019. REUTERS/Yves Herman TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar today welcomed the six-month Brexit extension given to the UK and said it should it “should be enough” to finalise a workable divorce deal with the UK.

Mr Varadkar also brushed aside suggestions of any significance attaching to the new Brexit deadline of October 31 – the feast of Hallowe’en.

“As I learned this evening, Hallowe’en is not a feast day widely celebrated across the European Union,” he joked with reporters.

The Taoiseach’s comments came after a tough six-hour special Brexit summit meeting Brussels where EU leaders have fixed a new Hallowe’en deadline for Brexit – insisting it was their final offer.

Mr Varadkar noted that the new October 31 deadline spares Ireland and the other economies the immediate drastic fallout from a no-deal Brexit which was threatened for tomorrow.

EU summit chairman, Donald Tusk, said the deal gave the UK the flexibility to leave earlier if they could get the Withdrawal Agreement ratified by their parliament. In the interim the EU expected to continued behaving cooperating loyally with the EU and use the time to resolve their disagreements

The result came after a contentious late-night EU leaders’ emergency Brexit summit in Brussels which saw French President Emmanuel Macron insist on tougher terms for the UK.

Many others among the remaining 27 EU states were ready to concede between three and six months extra to the UK to allow them to resolve the considerable internal disunity among the ruling Conservative Party and the main opposition Labour Party.

Mr Varadkar strongly hinted that he favoured a longer extension – but he also acknowledged that three years after the Brexit referendum of June 2016 it was time for the UK authorities to make decisions.

“The EU is not a prison – nobody has to stay. But nobody is going to kick anybody out either,” he said.

Many states were prepared to let things run until December 31 this year of March 31, 2020. But eventually they agreed a compromise – faced with President Macron’s insistence that nothing had happened in London until immediate deadlines loomed in the past three months.

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The new arrangement includes a firm demand that the UK hold European Parliament elections on May 23 next – something Prime Minister Theresa May was determined to avoid. It also includes a clause that UK efforts to organise an orderly Brexit will be reviewed in June.

The outcome will compound the problems of Theresa May with her own rebellious party members, both ardent Brexiteers and those determined to stay as close as possible to the EU.  It will make her increasingly dependent on her rival Labour rivals who are determined to drive things onward to a general election above all else.

Online Editors

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