DONALD TRUMP left Leo Varadkar visibly vexed after comparing the issue of Ireland’s post-Brexit border with Northern Ireland to his proposed border wall between the US and Mexico.
The comparison came just minutes into the US President’s overnight visit to Ireland, during a press conference alongside the Taoiseach.
Wading into the Brexit debate, Trump told reporters: “I think it will all work out very well, and also for you with your wall, your border.”
“I mean, we have a border situation in the United States, and you have one over here. But I hear it’s going to work out very well here.”
A concerned Varadkar was quick to interject, stating that a keystone of the Irish government’s policy is to avoid a border or wall between Ireland and Northern Irand.
“I think you do, I think you do,” Trump responded.
“The way it works now is good, you want to try and to keep it that way. I know that’s a big point of contention with respect to Brexit. I’m sure it’s going to work out very well. I know they’re focused very heavily on it.”
Trump’s comments appeared to echo those of Brexiter politicians like Nigel Farage and Iain Duncan Smith, who have been keen to play down any talk of a potential issue over the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland once the UK leaves the EU.
The Irish government, however, has been keen to argue the opposite, warning that Brexit has the potential to not only threaten peace on the island of Ireland but also economic prosperity.
The US President appeared undeterred by Varadkar’s conerns though, telling the Taoiseach: “There are a lot of good minds thinking about how to do it and it’s going to be just fine. It ultimately could even be very, very good for Ireland. The border will work out.”
Despite those comments, Varadkar later sought to clarify the President’s position, telling reporters they “talked Brexit” and that “President Trump shares our objective to keep the border open.”
Trump met with Farage, Duncan Smith and fellow Brexit politician Owen Paterson during his visit to London but turned down the offer of a meeting with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.