UK must come to terms with being a 'small country' after Brexit, says Leo Varadkar
Britain must “come to terms with the fact it’s now a small country”, the Irish Prime Minister has said, in comments that prompted outrage just days before Brexit.
Leo Varadkar also suggested the UK could rejoin the EU if Brexit does not “work out for them” and said Brussels would have the “stronger hand” in trade negotiations.
The Taoiseach’s comments, which come before trade talks begin in March, appeared to be deliberately provocative in a week which will end with Britain celebrating its new-found freedom from the EU.
One former Brexit minister suggested he would serve the Irish people by trying to “work in harmony” with Ireland’s biggest trading partner “rather than trying to provoke it”.
It came as Downing Street announced that ministers would be bypassed in the Brexit trade negotiations, with a team of civil servants called Taskforce Europe, headed by Mr Johnson’s chief Brexit adviser David Frost, carrying out the talks.
It means there will be no role for the International Trade Secretary Liz Truss, raising question marks about her future ahead of an impending Cabinet reshuffle.
The Irish premier told the BBC: "The European Union is a union of 27 member states. The UK is only one country. And we have a population and a market of 450 million people.
"The UK, it's about 60 (million). So if these were two teams up against each other playing football, who do you think has the stronger team?”
He added: “I don’t think the UK has yet come to terms with the fact it’s now a small country.”
Dann folgt ein Passus, in dem erklärt wird, das UK größer ist als Irland, und es einen schlechte Idee sei, seinen größten Handelspartner zu verärgern.
Downing Street confirmed on Monday that Steve Barclay, the Brexit Secretary, will be out of a Government job on Friday night, as his department will be abolished as soon as Britain leaves the EU at 11pm.
Klar, dann ist der Brexit ja done und nicht mehr zu tun
He will have to wait for a reshuffle expected within days of Brexit to find out if Mr Johnson has another ministerial role for him.
Liz Truss, the International Trade Secretary, will play no part in the Brexit negotiations after Number 10 said Mr Frost would be in charge of the Taskforce Europe team of negotiators, reporting directly to the Prime Minister.
A source close to Ms Truss said: “This was always the plan, that DIT would concentrate on the rest of the world while David Frost dealt with the EU.”