Irish PM, German Chancellor hold phone talk over Brexit issue
DUBLIN, Jan. 3 (Xinhua) -- Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said that he held a phone conversation with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday morning during which both leaders agreed that no reassurances or guarantees sought by the British side should contradict what has been agreed in the Withdrawal Agreement.
Leo Varadkar told a press briefing following a cabinet meeting held here at Government Buildings that the 40-minute conversation he held with Merkel at her request focused on securing the ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement, which is expected to be put to a vote in the British House of Commons in around mid-January.
He said that both leaders agreed that they would stand by the agreement made with the British government in November 2018. They said that they were happy to offer guarantees, clarifications and explanations to the British government and parliament, but not guarantees, clarifications and explanations that go against the spirit of the agreement.
He said that Ireland will not accept any changes to a Brexit deal that will make the "backstop" inoperable and no "hard" border after Brexit is the red line of Ireland which can not be stepped over.
He said that among a dozen of topics discussed at Thursday's cabinet meeting, the first of its kind held by the Irish government since the New Year, the real focus was on legislation, medicine and transport to make sure that Ireland has the protections and stockpiles and everything it needs in place in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
Regarding the legislation, he said that the meeting discussed what legislations the government needs to table to the lower house of the Irish parliament in case of a no-deal Brexit. He said the government will table the legislations to the parliament in around March if needed.
Talking about the medical supply, he said a significant amount of medicines that come from Britain are genetics and the relevant government departments are working with the local medicine wholesalers to make sure there is no disruption to the medical supply after a no-deal Brexit.
He did not elaborate on the transport issues under a no-deal Brexit scenario.
He also said that the government will purchase new port lands for customs posts and checks in the event of a no-deal Brexit. Even if these lands are not needed after Brexit, they can be used for future port expansion, he said.