Taoiseach Leo Varadkar says that he always expected to be asked to compromise in order to secure a Brexit deal.
Speaking in Brussells, he said: “Well I’ll be very frank with you, in dealing with this issue for over two years, it always crossed my mind that that might arise, that someday that I would get that phone call or find myself late at night being put under pressure from other European leaders and other European countries to compromise.
“But as things went on, the more and more I realised that that wasn’t going to be the case, that that was a concern that we didn’t need to have. There has been enormous solidarity for Ireland from our European partners from the institutions and also from the member states. And this was really born out of a belief that being a member is advantageous.
“And it certainly was never an anti-British thing, but of course if one country is leaving and another staying, there would be solidarity among the 27 and the European family.
Referring to European leaders as “the 27 muskateers, all for one and one for all”, the Taoiseach added: “When it sticks together it’s very powerful – I think we demonstrated that when it comes to Brexit, the way the 27 have stuck together and defended each other’s interests.”
He also said that he hoped and expected that “this should continue as we enter other negotiations, whether it’s with Turkey, whether it’s with the United States or China into the future, and even if we get past this next phase of Brexit – Brexit isn’t over”.
“The fact that there may be differences in Northern Ireland, doesn’t undermine the constitutional position, in my view,” he said.
He continued: “If this agreement is ratified and if it is fully implemented, the queen will still be the queen; the pound will still be the pound; people will still post letters in Royal Mail red letterboxes. Northern Ireland will still be part of the United Kingdom.”
The Taoiseach also acknowledged that the UK would become a competitor of Ireland’s but said that there were other countries where “we’re competitors, and also partners”.
“We’re very strong partners with the Netherlands, yet we’re forever competing for business with Amsterdam, so it’s possible to be both competitor and partner at the same time,” he said.