Boris won’t undercut EU – Varadkar determined there will be no competition after Brexit


The Taoiseach made the comments ahead of a meeting with EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier in Dublin today. Mr Varadkar said that following conversations with the Prime Minister he believes the two sides will be able to agree a “set of common minimum standards” on the environment, food and employment law.

He told the Sunday Times: “What Boris Johnson says to me when I meet him is that he and the British government are a little bit offended by this idea that the UK is going to go down that route.

“He says to me, ‘There’s absolutely no way I’d get chlorinated chicken through the House of Commons. Even if I wanted to, I wouldn’t get it through my own public.’

“So they’re a little bit offended by this idea that the UK is going to go down this deregulated lower-standards path.

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“He says to me, ‘You know, we’re the UK. We’re a wealthy, modern country. Do you not believe our standards are going to be at least as good as they are in EU countries like Bulgaria or Portugal?’

“I think we will be able to agree on a set of common minimum standards on all those areas. But those common minimum standards will be high standards.”

Mr Varadkar has also warned the UK that the EU will have the upper hand in post-Brexit trade talks.

Speaking to the BBC, he said: “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?”

It comes after the Home Secretary insisted Britain will not align with EU rules after Brexit.

Priti Patel told Sky’s Sophy Ridge On Sunday: “In terms of divergence, we are not having alignment. We will be diverging. We want to take control of our laws, money and our borders.

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“And to do that we will not be rule-takers – we will be setting our own laws and that is a fundamental feature of leaving the European Union.”

But Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay told The Andrew Marr Show that the UK would not diverge “just for the sake of it”.

He said: “We’re coming out of the single market, we’re coming out of the customs union. We’re not just going to diverge just for the sake of it – we need to look at where the opportunities are.

“But it is true that we are going to have control of our approach to regulation and that’s the very essence of Brexit: that we can do things differently, particularly where, for example, there is innovation, there are new technologies, there are things where we want to move quickly.

“Brexit at its very core is that we will have control of our laws, our regulation and that is why we can’t be a rule-taker: we need to have that opportunity.”

He added the UK’s objective is to have a zero-tariff, zero-quota, ambitious trade policy, but to do that in “parallel in our talks with the rest of the world – and in particular with the US”.

It comes as Britain is set to leave the EU on Friday, nearly four years after the referendum.

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The UK will then enter an 11-month transition period with the bloc to allow time for the two sides to strike a free trade agreement.

The Prime Minister said Britain will become a global, trail-blazing country after it leaves the EU.

Mr Johnson said: “Next Friday marks an important moment in the history of our United Kingdom.

“No matter how you voted in 2016, it is the time to look ahead with confidence to the global, trail-blazing country we will become over the next decade and heal past divisions.

“That is what I will be doing on January 31 and I urge everyone across the UK to do the same.”

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