Brexit has sent ‘not as important’ Britain into decades of decline, Irish PM Varadkar says

  • Brexit is a symptom of a Britain that has “struggled” to accept it is “not as important in the world” as it once was, Ireland’s prime minister has said.
  • In an interview on Irish radio on Friday, Leo Varadkar said the UK faced decades of economic decline as a result of its decision to pull out of the European Union.
  • He also warned that the incoming prime minister in the UK would face a “serious reality check” about Brexit when they took office – with both candidates for Tory leadership currently “in campaign mode” and ignoring the evidence.
  • “A consequence of Brexit for Britain is that it will fall into relative economic decline for many decades, probably be overtaken by France again and slowly over time it’ll be overtaken by lots of countries in Asia,” Mr Varadkar told the Newstalk radio station.

Tory leadership: Jeremy Hunt ‘expects’ Brexit by Christmas

  • Tory leadership contender Jeremy Hunt has refused to guarantee that the UK will leave the EU before Christmas, but said he “expects” it to happen by then.
  • He would not say when Brexit would take place if he became PM, telling the BBC: “I’m being honest with people”.
  • He also defended his remarks on the UK ambassador in Washington, who quit this week over leaked criticisms of Donald Trump.

The road to a deal for Boris Johnson?

  • Can Boris Johnson get a Brexit deal through by agreeing a significant extension to the “standstill transition” after Britain leaves the EU? This question has been raised by a couple of influential commentators this week.
  • At present it is hard to see how this goal can be achieved.
  • Mr Johnson could try to get a minimum time limit agreed for the backstop. But the EU and Irish governments clearly won’t agree to such a move.
  • He could revert to having a “Northern Ireland-only” backstop as the EU originally proposed. But this would mean placing a border down the Irish Sea, something that the Democratic Unionist party and large chunks of the Tory party would reject.
  • Another idea is therefore being “actively considered” by British officials, according to Mujtaba Rahman of the Eurasia Group consultancy. This involves extending the standstill transition period beyond the end of 2022, the maximum that is currently allowed for in the Withdrawal Agreement. The additional time — perhaps for five years — would then be used to settle the backstop.
  • Andrew Duff of the European Policy Centre also believes that extending the transition for several more years is key to a deal.
  • “If there’s going to be a majority for anything at Westminster, it’s going to be on this idea of extending the transition,” said Mr Rahman.
  • Others, however, will look at the situation that Mr Johnson has created and take the view that a no-deal Brexit is far more likely.