Taoiseach-designate Leo Varadkar said on Monday that Theresa May’s failure to win a majority in last week’s election might result in a softer Brexit.
Varadkar said that members of Northern Ireland’s DUP, who May is looking to for support in government to achieve a working majority, and the Scottish wing of the Conservative party would favour free trade with Europe and a common travel area between Northern Ireland and the Republic.
“I do have a sense that the landscape does change somewhat as a result of the British election,” Varadkar, who is expected to be voted in as prime minister on Wednesday, told reporters.
“I do think there is an opportunity to soften Brexit. But that all remains to be seen.”
May had said that she planned a clean break from the European Union, involving withdrawal from Europe’s single market and customs union, before she unexpectedly lost her majority.
Arts Minister Heather Humphreys said that DUP leader Foster had told her at an event on Sunday that she favours a different approach to Brexit.
“I was in Northern Ireland yesterday and Arlene Foster did say that she hopes that there will be a softer Brexit,” Humphreys said.
Rating agency Moody’s will assess the implication of Britain’s election, which failed to provide a clear winner on Friday, casting the country’s approach to Brexit and the future path of its economic policy into doubt.
“Moody’s is monitoring the UK’s process of forming a new government and will assess the credit implications in due course,” said Kathrin Muehlbronner, a Moody’s Senior Vice President and lead UK sovereign analyst.
“As previously stated, the future path of the UK sovereign rating will be largely driven by two factors: first, the outcome of the UK’s negotiations on leaving the European Union and the implications this has for the country’s growth outlook. Second, fiscal developments, given the country’s fiscal deficit and rising public debt.”
Brexit minister David Davis has also said that formal talks may not begin on June 19 as that is the same date the government is due to set out its policy programme for the new parliament.
Davis, whose Conservative Party is due to put its policy programme or Queen’s Speech to parliament on June 19 after failing to win a majority at last week’s election, said the Brexit talks would begin at some point next week.
“It’s in the week of next week, basically, is the first discussions,” Davis told Sky News when asked about the practicalities of the negotiations.
“My permanent secretary is actually in Brussels today talking to them about the details. It may not be on the Monday because we’ve also got the Queen’s Speech that week and I will have to speak in that and so on.”
However, Theresa May’s spokesman said Britain’s plan for leaving the European Union has not changed.
“Our position is clearly set out, it is clearly set out in a number of places and there has been no change to that,” the spokesman said, adding that the Brexit minister David Davis had set out the same position earlier on Monday.
“Obviously there will be discussions in cabinet but he (Davis) also set out very clearly that we have set out our plans clearly and there is no change to those.”
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