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'Tonight We Say Goodbye To An Old Friend' - Irish Pm

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By Reuters

DUBLIN, IRELAND (JANUARY 31, 2020) (REUTERS) ***WARNING: CONTAINS FLASH PHOTOGRAPHY*** (SOUNDBITE) (English) IRISH PRIME MINISTER, LEO VARADKAR, SAYING: "So tonight, when the clock strikes 11:00 p.m. the United Kingdom will leave the European Union. We'll say goodbye to an old friend embarking on an adventure, their own tryst with destiny. We do hope it works out for them, but if it does not, there will always be a seat for the United Kingdom at the European table. AUDIENCE LISTENING TO IRISH PRIME MINISTER LEO VARADKAR (SOUNDBITE) (English) IRISH PRIME MINISTER, LEO VARADKAR, SAYING: "I'm struck by the fact that over the past few years we've seen, again, the power of an abiding friendship in action. A friendship that brought peace, reconciliation and prosperity to Europe and has helped to protect peace here in Ireland, as we went through this first difficult phase of Brexit. The UK leaving is not a cause of celebration for us. There'll be no issuing of commemorative coins for this event, but we do celebrate the solidarity that is being shown by our EU partners and we say thank you to our fellow Europeans." VARADKAR SPEAKING (SOUNDBITE) (English) IRISH PRIME MINISTER, LEO VARADKAR, SAYING: "As Taoiseach, I've seen the strength and unity of the European Union and how much we can achieve when all member states, all 27 of us, think together, work together and have common objectives and goals. When Europe acts as one, it is a truly powerful force for good in the world. United we stand, but divided we achieve little." AUDIENCE LISTENING TO VARADKAR (SOUNDBITE) (English) IRISH PRIME MINISTER, LEO VARADKAR, SAYING: "So the next step is to negotiate a future relationship, including a free trade agreement between the European Union, including Ireland, and the UK. One that protects jobs, businesses, rural and coastal communities and our economies, generally. The UK would like to see a trade deal this year, and I believe that is possible, particularly if the new trade deal brings about arrangements that are very similar to the current ones. It will be difficult though." AUDIENCE LISTENING TO VARADKAR (SOUNDBITE) (English) IRISH PRIME MINISTER, LEO VARADKAR, SAYING: "On our side, we know it's going to be a pretty rocky couple of months. The European Council at the end of March is going to be crucial in that regard and we need to get down to business very quickly trying to get the trade deal, which is essential for the Irish economy, and of course for Britain's. We want free trade with the UK with no tariffs, no taxes, no quotas and as little bureaucracy and a few checks as possible." AUDIENCE LISTENING TO VARADKAR (SOUNDBITE) (English) IRISH PRIME MINISTER, LEO VARADKAR, SAYING: "I am adamant that our future partnership with the UK must go beyond trade. It needs to cover a broad range of issues, including fisheries, for example, security, our universities, cooperation on research and economics generally. I'm confident that we can get a good deal. And the good news is that I don't think the two parties are actually that far apart - further apart in rhetoric than in substance. The EU on the one hand and Britain on the other broadly agree that we want there to be no quotas, no tariffs, no taxes and the minimum amount of bureaucracy and tax possible. And that's really important in Ireland for our exporters, our businesses, our agri-food sector, our rural economy, our coastal communities and the 200,000 people in all parts of Ireland whose jobs depend on trade with the UK." VARADKAR SPEAKING (SOUNDBITE) (English) IRISH PRIME MINISTER, LEO VARADKAR, SAYING: "And we do need to bear in mind that the UK is not Canada, you know the kind of undercutting and unfair competition that could happen with the UK is quite different, Canada is very far away, and there is a big ocean between. So I think we need to bare that in mind when it comes to the next set of talks, yes the new trade deal might resemble Canada, but Canada is not the UK, the UK is right here on our doorstep and 60 million people." VARADKAR BEING THANKED, AUDIENCE CLAPPING AS VARADKAR LEAVES
Dateline: 2020

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Dublin, Ireland, Ireland
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