The top Eurocrat also said Brussels was “open but unconvinced” by Mr Johnson’s plan for replacing the controversial Northern Ireland backstop proposal with an alternative model based on keeping EU single market regulations across the entire island of Ireland after Brexit.
Downing Street officials sought to play down the row last night, insisting technical talks between the UK and Brussels negotiating teams will intensify in the coming days.
Leo Varadkar meets Boris Johnson to discuss
But the Irish premier’s stance provoked a furious backlash from Tory MPs and their allies in Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party.
Brexiteer Tory MP Peter Bone described Mr Varadkar’s outburst as “meddling”.
Mr Bone said: “We had a once in a lifetime referendum and there was a very clear majority for leaving the EU.”
He added: “The reaction from my constituents would be – it is nothing to do with you, mate, we make our own decisions.”
Nigel Evans, another Leave-backing Tory MP, said: “The British people voted to leave the EU. We are democrats in the UK and we have never ignored a result of a referendum unlike other EU countries including Ireland.”
Donald Tusk and Leo Varadkar
Mr Varadkar ripped into the Prime Minister’s proposals during a visit to Sweden yesterday.
He claimed the Downing Street blueprint, published on Wednesday, “falls short in a number of aspects” while his deputy Simon Coveney said: “If that is the final proposal, there will be no deal.”
The Irish premier claimed to be unable to fully understand how the plan for two different customs regimes without border checks could work.
“We need to explore in much more detail the customs proposals that are being put forward as it’s very much the view of the Irish government and the people of Ireland, north and south, that there shouldn’t be customs checkpoints or tariffs between north and south,” he said.
Mr Coveney also hit out at the British proposals to ensure consent for the regulatory zone with votes in the Northern Ireland Assembly, suggesting the move would hand too much power to the DUP.
He said: “We cannot support any proposal that suggests that one party or indeed a minority in Northern Ireland could make the decision for the majority in terms of how these proposals would be implemented in the future.”
DUP leader Arlene Foster reacted angrily to the intransigence from the Irish premier and his deputy.
She said: “Simon Coveney’s remarks are deeply unhelpful, obstructionist and intransigent.
“The Irish government’s majoritarian desire to ride roughshod over unionism was one of the reasons why the Withdrawal Agreement was rejected.
DUP leader Arlene Foster and deputy leader Nigel Dodds
“Mr Coveney’s rejection of a reasonable offer is paving the road for a no-deal exit because Unionism will not allow Northern Ireland to be trapped at the whim of Dublin or the EU. We will not buy that.
“The Irish government’s preparedness to dump the consent principle for their country’s expediency is foolish in the extreme and sends a very clear message to Unionists.:
She added: “There will be no return to the flawed backstop. We will leave the EU, Customs Union and single market alongside the rest of the United Kingdom.”
Responding to Mr Varadkar’s claims, a spokeswoman for Mr Johnson said: “The UK voted to leave the EU and the Prime Minister believes it is vital we deliver upon that decision.
“We are all used to being asked questions about Brexit when we travel and it is no different for him, but the Prime Minister laid out in a statement earlier today that it is vital we deliver on the referendum result and that is what we are going to do.”
She added: “We look forward to having further talks with the Commission in the coming days on the proposals we put forward yesterday and they are happening today with our officials.”
Mr Johnson is expected to fly several European capitals in the coming days for face-to-face talks with key EU leaders including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron.
Mr Tusk spoke to both Mr Varadkar and Mr Johnson by telephone yesterday. Following the two calls, he said his message to the Irish premier was: “We stand fully behind Ireland.”
In contrast, he told the Prime Minister: “We remain open but still unconvinced.”
European Parliament Brexit co-ordinator Guy Verhofstadt said agreeing to the Prime Minister’s Brexit proposals would be “nearly impossible”.
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