Leo Varadkar says Brexit will lead to 'decades of economic decline' for UK
The UK faces "decades of economic decline" after it leaves the European Union, Leo Varadkar has warned.
Ireland's Taoiseach said Britain “struggled” to accept it was “not as important in the world” and that its economy would be overtaken by France, India and growing Far-Eastern countries.
Speaking to the radio station, Newstalk, Mr Varadkar said: "A consequence of Brexit for Britain is that it will fall into relative economic decline for many decades, probably be overtaken by France again and slowly over time it'll be overtaken by lots of countries in Asia.”
“One of the difficulties for Britain is they're struggling to cope with the fact that as a country and an economy they're not as important in the world as they used to be.
“There are 100 million people living in Vietnam, they're going to be overtaken by Korea, India economically.”
He added that the transition was “inevitable” and argued that most European countries understand that they need to “stick together and integrate so we can preserve our way of life, our prosperity, our peace and security”.
“Britain has never really fully accepted that in the way that France and Germany and Italy did after the war,” he continued.
When asked if “the sun is setting on the British Empire,” the Taoiseach responded: “Perhaps, but that's their choice, it's their decision. We have to respect the decisions they make.”
Elsewhere, he said that Boris Johnson or Jeremy Hunt faced a “serious reality check” on becoming the next UK Prime Minister on how they deal with Northern Ireland in relation to Brexit.
Both candidates have vowed to pursue alternatives to the controversial Irish backstop – which would see Britain remain in a European customs union until an alternative is found to keep an open border in Ireland.
The EU has repeatedly insisted that it is not up for renegotiation in any withdrawal agreement however.
“Politicians when they’re in campaign mode - and both those men are in campaign mode - tend to campaign in poetry, in simple terms and messages,” Mr Varadkar said.
“When you get into office, you govern in prose.”
“And I imagine that whoever becomes Prime Minister is going to face a very serious reality check when they sit down with their officials to be fully briefed on the realities of Brexit, if they don’t know them already.”