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Irish deputy premier says no-deal Brexit ‘far more likely’

UK News | Published:

Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney said that Ireland and the EU will not abandon a solution for ‘some kind of promise’ from Boris Johnson.

Simon Coveney

Ireland’s deputy premier has said that a no-deal Brexit is much more likely now than it has ever been.

Referring to the Northern Irish backstop, the state’s Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney said that Ireland and the EU will not abandon a solution to the border for “some kind of promise” from Boris Johnson.

He said the British Government’s approach to Brexit was making a no-deal far more likely.

The British Prime Minister is travelling to Berlin on Wednesday where he will discuss Brexit-related issues with the German premier Angela Merkel over dinner, before heading to Paris tomorrow to meet French president Emmanuel Macron.

Speaking ahead of his trip, the Tanaiste said: “There is a reason why Boris Johnson is visiting Berlin today and Paris tomorrow – to try to talk to EU leaders about finding a way forward.

“I think he will get a very consistent message from EU leaders that the negotiations over the last two to three years are not going to be abandoned now.

“We will try and find a way to give the reassurance and clarification that Boris Johnson needs to sell a deal.

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“We will try and be imaginative about that and be helpful on that.”

Earlier this week Mr Johnson wrote a letter to European Council President Donald Tusk, calling for the backstop to be scrapped.

He reiterated his opposition to the so-called insurance policy, saying he will not support any withdrawal agreement that includes it.

Mr Coveney told RTE Radio One that EU leaders will not abandon the backstop.

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“We are not going to abandon a solution that we know works for some kind of promise on the basis of trust that we will all work together to try and find a solution and muddle on in the future to solve the border,” he added.

Boris Johnson
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is meeting the French and German leaders this week (Peter Nicholls/PA)

“If we do that, what we will be doing is we will creating collateral damage in Ireland to solve a problem in Westminster and for the next number of years, the border issue will dominate Irish politics, north and south, because we haven’t resolved it in the way we that know we can.

“We are not in the business of facilitating the UK effectively moving away from commitments they have made to Ireland and the EU, to protect the Good Friday Agreement, to protect an all-island economy.

“To replace that with some sort of makeshift deal in the weeks before a no-deal, that isn’t what we are going to do.

“Instead what we have been dong for over a year now, we have been planning for contingency in the context of a no-deal Brexit should that happen.

“When you put a contingency in place you do that with partners that you know and understand fully and can trust.”

Mr Coveney also said that no-one wants to see the relationship between Ireland and the UK deteriorate.

He added that Ireland will not be “steam-rolled” at the end of the Brexit because of Mr Johnson’s opposition to the backstop and new red lines.

“That’s not a reasonable approach,” he added.

“We are trying to manage relationships in a way that is consistent with the Good Friday Agreement.

“Ireland is a confident young country that expects to negotiate on an equal basis.

“If we didn’t have the backstop we wouldn’t have answers to how we solve the border challenge.

“The Withdrawal Agreement has a facilitation in it for multiple review mechanisms.”

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