BORIS JOHNSON forced into an abrupt climbdown by convincing him he was serious about a no deal which would have proved disastrous to Ireland's economy, paving the way for concessions which led to the deal announced in Brussels yesterday, a former Irish diplomat has said. MPs are preparing to vote on the proposals tomorrow, with Mr Johnson's team scrambling to drum up the 320 he needs to get it passed by the Commons tomorrow. And as Parliament sits on Saturday – the first in 37 years – former Irish diplomat revealed a new deal was only on the table because of Mr Johnson’s dogged determination to convince the Irish Taoiseach he was prepared to take the UK out of the EU on October 31 without a withdrawal agreement in place if necessary.
In doing so Mr Johnson punctured Dublin's complacent belief that Brexit end up being reversed, Mr Bassett added.
In Brussels had been regarded as a "loyal son" and an "effective ally" of the European Commission, and in particular its president, Jean-Claude Juncker, and Michel Barnier, the EU's chief Brexit negotiator, explained Mr Bassett.
In his blog written for the Politeia think tank, the former Irish diplomat added: "In contrast among Brexiteers in Britain, Varadkar and his chief lieutenant Simon Coveney, have shouldered much of the blame for the intransigence and arrogance which was associated with the EU.
"Polls in the UK consistently showed that Varadkar was blamed by many for the long and frustrating impasse.Boris Johnson convinced Leo Varadkar he was ready for a no deal outcome, said Ray Bassett (Image: GETTY)Leo Varadkar with Michel Barnier, Donald Tusk and Jean-Claude Juncker (Image: GETTY)
"Varadkar and Coveney were happy to go along with that role, coupling it with a hefty dose of old-fashioned Anglophobia and initially this was enthusiastically supported by the Irish electorate.
"Their tough stance and determined speeches sounded good and showed up remarkably well in comparison with the shambles and indecision of the Theresa May Government.
"There was widespread belief in Dublin at that time that Brexit was either going to be reversed or at worst, would result in a BRINO (Brexit in Name Only).
"After all, the EU had been successful in either ignoring or reversing so many referenda in the past. The crushing defeats of in the House of Commons was the first wake up call.
JUST IN: Gove and Raab's no deal promise to BrexiteersBoris Johnson and Leo Varadkar at the European Council summit (Image: GETTY)
The prospect of a hard border on the island of Ireland, and huge trading difficulties with Ireland’s most important economic and strategic partner, the UK, suddenly loomed large on the horizon
Subsequently, the results of the local elections in England and later the , which featured a strong showing by the then-newly formered Brexit Party, had resulted in Mrs May being replaced by Mr Johnson, and the "cold realisation" that the new Prime Minister was not backing down.
Mr Bassett said: "The prospect of a hard border on the island of Ireland, and huge trading difficulties with Ireland’s most important economic and strategic partner, the UK, suddenly loomed large on the horizon.
"Ireland had done very little credible preparation for a hard Brexit, viewing it as only a remote possibility.
"Several of the main ports in the Republic were years away from being ready for a No Deal. Events had taken a sudden turn for the worse."
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Domestically, the mood began to change, with confidence in 's handling of Brexit plummeting to 40 percent, significantly lower than the previous year.
Consequently, the Irish leader's party had also seen its poll rating slide, at which point alarm bells began to ring.
Mr Bassett added: "It was becoming clear that the Irish Government could be an early casualty of a no deal Brexit, something that their previous actions had helped to make more likely."
Mr Varadkar then met the Prime Minister for "direct and productive" talks, despite having previously suggested such a course was impossible.Boris Johnson's Brexit history (Image: Daily Express)
Mr Bassett said: "Apart from tearing up the embargo on direct negotiations, the sacrosanct Withdrawal Agreement was suddenly open to change.
"After the Varadkar/Johnson meeting, there was a surge in support for the Taoiseach and his Fine Gael Party.
"The achievement of a deal which avoided a hard border and allowed for a smooth Brexit would be hugely popular in the Irish Republic."
As such, was seeking to "cash in" on his increased popularity with a general election, said Mr Bassett.Theresa May's deal was defeated three times in the Commons (Image: GETTY)
He concluded: "Varadkar now wants to cash in on this new and possibly temporary increase in his popularity and hold a general election.
"He played a constructive and supportive role in helping secure a Deal.
"However, without the threat of a No Deal, neither Varadkar nor the EU would have moved an inch.
"They would have had no incentive to do so."