Varadkar in Belfast: UK crashing out without a deal 'unlikely'

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By Michael-Ross Fiorentino
Leo Varadkar speaks at a European Financial Forum event in Dublin, Ireland
Leo Varadkar speaks at a European Financial Forum event in Dublin, Ireland   -  Copyright  REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne

During a visit to Belfast on Friday (March 1), the Irish Prime Minister, Leo Varadkar, told business leaders he doesn't believe the UK will leave the European Union without a deal.

"I don't want to say too much about it at this stage but I think that the United Kingdom crashing out of the European Union without a deal on the 29th of March is unlikely. I think we either will have a deal or we'll have an extension," said the Irish leader following the meeting.

Varadkar also addressed Northern Ireland's Alliance Party at an annual dinner last night, where the Irish leader expressed his desire to work with all Northern Ireland parties and individuals in civic nationalism and unionism.

The Irish PM, like the Taoiseach, warned that Brexit risked weakening the Good Friday agreement but offered assurances that anyone from Northern Ireland would still be able to claim Irish citizenship.

Varadkar said he was personally committed to work with people who consider themselves to be British or Irish and the growing numbers who feel that they are and can be both.

"The Brexiteers never gave up on leaving. Had they lost the referendum, they would not have given up their firmly held beliefs. I ask that you never give up either," Varadkar encouraged members of the Alliance Party.

He added that he hopes the withdrawal agreement will still be ratified by the UK in order to avoid a no-deal outcome.

The Alliance Party of NI is set to host their annual conference Saturday (March 2) where Varadkar will likely further discuss Brexit as well as future economic links across the border.

Video editor • Philip Andrew Churm