Tuesday, 26 March 2019

Ceisteanna (107)

Micheál Martin


107. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if he has spoken to Prime Minister May since the beginning of March 2019; and if so, the issues that were discussed. [13889/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Taoiseach)

I had a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister May on the margins of the European Council on 21 March where we discussed the current state of play with Brexit and the Prime Minister outlined the approach she planned to take at the European Council meeting.

Prime Minister May explained that she was seeking an extension of the Article 50 deadline until 30 June, which she hoped would provide sufficient time for her to secure agreement and to complete the legislative arrangements needed to implement it in the UK.

I reiterated our wish to see the Withdrawal Agreement ratified, so that negotiations on a close, comprehensive and ambitious future relationship between the EU and the UK can start as soon as possible. I also made clear that we are sympathetic to the case for an extension.

The House will be aware that, in the end, the European Council agreed to an extension until 22 May if the Withdrawal Agreement is approved by the House of Commons this week. Absent that approval, an extension to 12 April was agreed, by which date the UK would be expected to bring forward alternative proposals.

I continue to believe that approval of the Withdrawal Agreement is the best way forward in order to protect the Good Friday Agreement and to avoid a hard border. I was pleased to have the continued backing of my fellow counterparts.