Brexit deal: NIO Minister of State Shailesh Vara resigns

Karen Bradley welcomed the support of business leaders after a meeting on the draft Brexit deal in Belfast

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar downplayed the prospects of the European Union countenancing amendments to a text that has taken two years to develop.

If implemented the deal will ensure that frictionless trade can continue and that no hard border will be imposed between Ireland and the United Kingdom, essential not just for trade between the two countries but also as the United Kingdom is an essential land bridge for Irish trucks carry goods to mainland Europe.

On a visit to a housing development in Dublin, Mr Varadkar predicted that Mrs May may start to secure more support for her proposals as the Brexit "precipice" approaches.

"We have to make sure the backstop is fully backed, and that's what we're focused on, protecting people across this island", he said.

He added that no worldwide negotiation "gives one side everything it wants" but praised the Prime Minister for remaining "true to her word".

Political commentator Noel Whelan said in the event of a no deal, and despite the economic fallout, he thinks the Irish people "will be forgiving" of the taoiseach, who he said "did an incredible job getting what the Irish government wanted into the agreement".

International System of Units overhauled in historic vote
The new system will enable much more precise measurements of very large and very small masses. Their bathroom scales won't get kinder and kilos and grams won't change in supermarkets.

Mr Varadkar said he did not think the draft agreement could be re-negotiated before the end of March and that "any renegotiation would involve postponing Brexit".

"But that would have to be requested by the UK Government and they have been very clear. that they won't be seeking a delay", he added.

"We have to be prudent, we have to prepare for the worst case scenario is even though I'm much more confident now that the worst case scenario won't arise", he said.

"British politics is so volatile at this time, we don't know who is going to emerge as prime minister, but regardless who is in charge it is hard to see what alternative deal Europe could give them".

And while there is widespread opposition to May's Brexit withdrawal deal now, that could ease "as reality kicks in, as the precipice approaches", Varadkar said. "We believe that a border in the Irish Sea is not in the interests of our farmers or our business owners, because Great Britain is by far our biggest and best market".

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