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Clarity, urgency needed from London on Brexit: Irish PM

Xinhua | Updated: 2018-02-12 09:45

DUBLIN - Clarity and urgency are needed from London on Brexit as time is running out, said the Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar on Sunday.

Talking in a local TV program, Leo Varadkar said that it is 20 months since the Brexit referendum and people still don't know what the British government wants Brexit to mean.

He said Britain needs to make a decision on what relationship it wants to have with the European Union (EU) after its withdrawal.

"The UK is due to leave the EU in March 2019. It's a little over a year away and I think we need clarity and urgency from London," he said.

Varadkar said he understood the frustration expressed by the EU's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier after the latest round of the Brexit talks last week.

Barnier said at a press conference in Brussels after last week's talks that any solution on the issue of the border must be precise, clear and unambiguous.

The chief negotiator also expressed unhappiness with the progress of the on-going Phase-II Brexit talks since the conclusion of the Phase-I talks in December.

Asked to comment on the remarks made by Barnier at last week's press conference that Britain's decision to leave the EU single market and customs union will mean checks at the Irish border are "unavoidable", Varadkar said that "The difficult part, and it was always going to be the difficult part, in Phase II is the commitments and guarantees around the avoidance of a hard border."

"What we're trying to do... is ensure that what was agreed in December is now stitched into the legal text of the withdrawal agreement," he said.

The Irish border issue is one of the three main concerns in the first-phase Brexit talks. Britain has assured in the first-phase Brexit talks that there will be no hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland after its departure from the EU. Ireland is the only EU member state that shares a land border with Britain's Northern Ireland.

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