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Leo Varadkar has attacked Fianna Fáil over Brexit negotiation concerns

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has attacked Fianna Fáil over their concerns on the Brexit negotiations.

Attending an EU summit with other leaders, Mr Varadkar said British prime minister Theresa May had reassured him of her commitments to the so-called 'backstop' deal for a frictionless border.

Talks will resume on trying to resolve the Irish question on Monday and how to prevent a fresh border when Britain leaves the European Union.

Leo Varadkar.

Mr Varadkar made surprise comments at the summit that negotiations may go down to the wire on the border and even last until October, when a final withdrawal deal must be ready for member states. However, he would prefer if the backstop and border question was resolved by June.

Fianna Fáil though said the government's comfort with an October deadline was a serious miscalculation, putting Ireland in a weaker position regarding an open border.

However, responding to the criticisms today at the summit, Mr Varadkar hit back at the opposition party.

He said there was a firm commitment agreed back in December and this had been reaffirmed by Ms May this week.

[quote]The position being put across by Fianna Fail on this has been very inconsistent. We have had everything from a Fianna Fail motion at their Ard Fheis to have a hard border and to put in tolling gantries and so on, to them calling on us to engage in negotiations bilaterally with the UK, to them calling us not to.[/quote]

He said the situation between Britain and Ireland should not be viewed as “a conflict”.

“It is not a case of when they are winning, we are losing. We are not going to get a good outcome for Ireland on that basis.”

EU leaders at the summit today agreed to a transition period for Brexit up until the end of 2020 as well as a framework for future trade talks. Negotiations on the border will now resume next week.