Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar says the European Union will have the upper hand in post-Brexit trade talks with the UK, the BBC reported on Monday.
Varadkar, however, questioned Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s timetable of striking a deal by the end of the year.
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, while we have a population and a market of 450 million people,” he told the BBC.
He said “it will be difficult to do this” when asked about Johnson’s aim of getting a deal by the end of 2020.
“To get a trade deal, the UK would have to give legal assurances that it would not undercut the EU.”
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 feared that in 2019, the UK 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 have to be some checks on goods going from Britain into Northern Ireland, in spite of Johnson’s repeated insistence that there will not have to be.