December 19, 2018 / 2:50 PM / 6 months ago

Guaranteed date for post-Brexit trade deal would undermine backstop - Irish PM

FILE PHOTO - Ireland's Prime Minister (Taoiseach) and Defence Minister Leo Varadkar attends a news conference after a European Union leaders summit in Brussels, Belgium December 14, 2018. REUTERS/Piroschka Van De Wouw

DUBLIN (Reuters) - The European Union refused a British request for a legal guarantee that a post-Brexit trade deal would go into effect in 2021 as it would have potentially rendered the Northern Ireland backstop inoperable, Ireland’s prime minister said on Wednesday.

British Prime Minister Theresa May asked EU leaders for a guarantee that a new EU-UK trade deal would take effect in 2021 even if EU parliaments had not ratified it, Leo Varadkar told the Irish parliament.

“If we were to give it, the European Union could find itself in breach and the responsibility for avoiding a hard (Irish) border in that case would potentially shift to the European Union rather than the United Kingdom,” he said. “It would potentially render the backstop inoperable.”

Reporting by Conor Humphries; Editing by Jon Boyle

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