Dublin says Brexit deal must include agreement’s ‘core issues’
IRELAND will not back any Brexit divorce deal that alters the core principles of this week’s ill-fated draft UK/EU agreement, its deputy premier has insisted.
Simon Coveney said the Dublin government would consider alternative proposals if any are forthcoming from London, but stressed it would not countenance anything that fell short of the assurances it needs over the shape of the border post Brexit.
The Tanaiste told the Dail: “We are in a position where we still need to find a way forward but, let me be very clear, the core issues that Ireland got agreement on at the start of this week are not changing.”
Prime Minister Theresa May is facing a high-pressure race against time to make progress in talks with Brussels amid a deadlock over the border.
Mrs May is hoping to make a new offer by Friday to satisfy both Ireland and Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party which props up her Government and scuppered a deal on divorce issues on Monday.
The mooted agreement between the UK and EU, which envisaged the alignment of regulations north and south to maintain free flow of goods, was torpedoed after the DUP rejected it.
Mr Coveney insisted Ireland was advocating a solution that would benefit all the people of the island and also Britain.
“There are lots of issues that are subject to negotiation,” he said. “We accept that the British government is trying to move this process forward in good faith. We want to work with them on that, and not against them.
“But Ireland has real concerns and they are important to this country and its future and they are important to this island and its future and we have an obligation to ensure we act accordingly.”
The senior Fine Gael TD added: “We will not support anything that in our view risks the re-emergence of a hard border on this island in the context of these negotiations.”
Sinn Fein urged Mr Coveney to go further, and state that his government would not sign up to any deal that saw Northern Ireland leave the formal customs union and single market structures.
The Tanaiste declined, adding: “This is a sensitive negotiation at a very, very sensitive time so what you are not going to get from me is statements that are going to stoke up what is already a difficult relationship management exercise.”
Pressure is growing on Mrs May to get leaders at the December 14 European Council summit to declare sufficient progress has been made on divorce issues so trade talks can begin, with business chiefs warning companies will activate contingency plans that will cost Britain jobs if there is further delay.
After talks in Dublin on Wednesday night, Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Dutch PM Mark Rutte made clear the EU would not compromise and allow the Irish border to be kicked down the road to phase two of the talks, even under threat of Britain crashing out with no deal or divorce
> Theresa May is under pressure to make
> Tanaiste Simon Coveney