Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said that the outcome of general elections in the Republic of Ireland could have a knock-on effect on future UK-EU trade deal negotiations.
The next general election in the Republic of Ireland will take place on February 8, with recent polls indicating that the major parties are “neck and neck”.
Speaking to the BBC’s Andrew Marr, Varadkar said that it is “all to play for” at the Irish elections and explained that the national poll was called for Ireland to have a government in place before the next European Council meeting in March.
The Irish premier said that his party, Fine Gael, would not look to enter into a coalition with Sinn Féin should they fail to win a majority.
Varadkar urged that the Republic of Ireland needs a stable government after the weekend’s elections, adding that it is “essential” to the Republic of Ireland and the UK’s future.
Varadkar added: “I know that’s something the Irish people will reflect on when they to the polls at the weekend.”
The Taoiseach has also said that future trade talks between the EU and the UK should “start off on better footing than maybe was the case after the referendum” in 2016, in order to increase the chances of a positive outcome.
However, UK prime minister Boris Johnson has already rejected Varadkar’s notion that the UK should agree to a level playing field with the EU in negotiations.
Johnson is due to outline the UK’s strategy going into talks during a speech in London later on Monday.