Varadkar pleased that Irish interests upheld in Brexit deal

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said he is pleased that Ireland’s concerns and priorities have been addressed in the new draft Brexit deal.

Speaking after the publication of the text this evening, Mr Varadkar said decisive progress has been made.

He was “pleased to report” that the deal reached a satisfactory outcome on all the key Irish priorities, including the protection of the peace process, the common travel area and its associated benefits for Irish citizens, maintaining Ireland’s place at the “heart of Europe”, and protecting jobs and the economy.

The current commitment from the UK on the Northern Ireland border is stronger than that of last December, he said.

Mr Varadkar said avoiding a hard border had been “one of the most difficult challenges” of the process, but the draft withdrawal agreement had fully spelt out the backstop arrangement.

The Taoiseach said the EU and UK would establish a shared customs territory, with Northern Ireland applying some additional rules for goods to ensure a free-flowing border.

He made clear the backstop would remain in place “unless and until” a better solution is agreed.