Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said the European Union will have the upper hand in post-Brexit trade talks with the United Kingdom and questioned Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s timetable of striking a deal by the end of the year, the BBC reported.
Varadkar, in an interview with the BBC, compared the two sides to soccer teams and suggested that the EU would have the “stronger team” due to its larger population and market.
“The European Union is a union of 27 member states. The UK is only one country. And we have a population and a market of 450 million people,” he told the BBC.
When asked about Johnson’s aim of getting a deal by the end of 2020, he said: “It will be difficult to do this”.
To get a trade deal, the United Kingdom would have to give legal assurances that it would not undercut the EU, Varadkar said.
The Irish PM added that both sides would have to agree to a “common set of minimum standards” that would have to be “high standards”.
He said he had feared last year that the United Kingdom would leave the EU without a deal but that a meeting he had with Johnson in October had been a breakthrough.
Varadkar, though, cautioned that there will be have to be some checks on goods going from Britain into Northern Ireland, despite Johnson’s repeated insistence that there will not have to be.