Ireland: EU Will Keep Seat Open for ‘Small Country’ UK in Case Brexit Doesn’t Work Out

European Union chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier (L), shakes hands with Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar prior to a meeting on the sidelines of an European Council Summit at The Europa Building in Brussels, on June 20, 2019. (Photo by Olivier Matthys / POOL / AFP) (Photo credit should read …
OLIVIER MATTHYS/AFP via Getty Images

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar has said that the UK must “come to terms with the fact it’s now a small country”, and said that the EU would leave a seat open for Britain in case Brexit is a failure.

The Irish Taoiseach made the insulting remarks in the week that the UK leaves the EU. Mr Varadkar told the BBC on Monday: “The European Union is a union of 27 member states. The UK is only one country. And we have a population and a market of 450 million people.

“The UK, it’s about 60 (million). So if these were two teams up against each other playing football, who do you think has the stronger team?”

“I don’t think the UK has yet come to terms with the fact it’s now a small country,” he added.

Later speaking alongside the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier in Dublin, Mr Varadkar said that the EU remains open to accepting the UK back into the political bloc.

The Taoiseach, who leads a nation of 4.9 million — less than the population of London — said: “We will say goodbye to an old friend embarking on an adventure. We hope it works out for them but if it does not, there will always be a seat kept for them at the table.”

It comes as no surprise that the Europhile Irish leader would side with Brussels over the Brexit issue, yesterday claiming that the bloc had the upper hand in negotiations and having declared in January that his country is “on team EU”. However, Ireland’s leader may recall that Ireland imports more from the UK than any other country.

Former Brexit minister David Jones made such a point, saying in comments reported by The Telegraph that “Ireland shares far more with Britain than it does with continental Europe” and “rather than trying to provoke its most important trading partner, it would do well to work in harmony with it.”

Mr Varadkar also said that he believed Prime Minister Boris Johnson would have to break his word and extend the 11-month transition period to agree on a deal with the EU. Mr Varadkar told the BBC: “My assessment is that it is more likely that we will need an extension in order to finalise a free trade agreement and future economic partnership than not need it.”

Asked whether there were any circumstances where he would accept an extension, which has been made illegal through a clause in the recently-passed Brexit legislation, Prime Minister Johnson said: “I think we can do this. we can wrap this all up in the time we’ve got and we’ve got till the end of the year. But we’ll be doing things very fast, very friendly, and in a very respectful way.”

While Britain is divorcing herself from her neighbours in Europe, she is seeking to reconnect with her Commonwealth and former colonial family overseas, with reports the government is working on fast-tracking trade deals with the United States, Australia, and New Zealand.

Officials have even reportedly told the prime minister to prioritise a U.S. trade deal over one with the EU in order to exert pressure on Brussels to agree on a good deal, and to remind the bloc that there is a world of nations the UK can trade with after the transition period.

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