Theresa May’s successor faces a “very serious reality check” when it comes to Brexit, Ireland’s prime minister has warned.
Leo Varadkar also said the backstop – a controversial insurance policy designed to avoid the return of a hard border on the island of Ireland – was still the best compromise.
He also rejected a claim from Boris Johnson, the frontrunner to succeed Mrs May, that the border issue could be sorted out in a transition phase – saying this was “incorrect”.
In an interview with Newstalk radio, Mr Varadkar also revealed that Ireland is considering checking live animals and animal products from Britain as they arrive at ports on the whole island of Ireland in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
The future status of the border is one of the most contentious issues surrounding Britain’s exit from the EU.
Dublin has said it would not impose any restrictions along the border if the UK leaves without an agreement with Brussels in place.
But they have now said for the first time that they would have to carry out checks somewhere in order to safeguard the EU’s single market.
Mr Varadkar said: “The kind of things that we’re looking at and proposing, for example, is that the entire island of Ireland will be treated the same when it comes to agriculture or food and that any SPS [sanitary and phytosanitary] checks would happen at the ports.
“That would mean Britain accepting that Northern Ireland is being treated differently.
“The other things obviously are checks at business level and random checks and controls, and we’ll have to have a lot more of them anyway because of smuggling.”
Dublin is holding talks with the European Commission over how it could carry out the requisite checks without re-imposing controls along the border.
Any checks between Britain and Northern Ireland would be bitterly opposed by the Democratic Unionist Party.
“This is not a good solution, this is vastly inferior to what we negotiated with Prime Minister [Theresa] May and is vastly inferior to the North’s current model,” Mr Varadkar said.
The Irish PM warned that a no-deal Brexit would hit Northern Ireland harder than anywhere else in Europe.