Taoiseach must stand up for Ireland’s national interest

20 July 2018

Responding to today’s speech by British Prime Minister, Theresa May, Labour Leader Brendan Howlin called on the Taoiseach to stand up for Ireland’s national interest.

Deputy Howlin said:

“Following the purposefully destructive amendments to the UK’s Trade Bill tabled by Brexiteer MPs, the middle ground for a compromise on the Irish border is rapidly disappearing. The crucial amendment is the one that would make any kind of border between Northern Ireland and Britain unlawful.

“Based on Theresa May’s statements in Belfast today, she is gambling on an all-or-nothing trade deal for the whole UK, which will keep the Irish border open. She is now refusing to accept that Northern Ireland might remain aligned to the EU’s customs union and single market, which is the essence of the ‘backstop’ agreement that she agreed last December.

“While a free trade agreement between the EU and UK is highly desirable from Ireland’s perspective, for jobs and businesses, it is not guaranteed. But the open border must be guaranteed, even if the trade talks break down or are delayed. That is the whole point of having a backstop agreement.

“Michel Barnier has said that the EU will be flexible, but he is right to insist that we must have a backstop agreement for the border before any trade agreement with the UK.

“The Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, told the Dáil repeatedly that June was the deadline to firmly establish the backstop agreement, but his self-imposed deadline was missed and the Brexiteer MPs in London have made things more difficult.

“Leo Varadkar must support the EU negotiation team by standing up to Mrs May on this issue.”

ENDS

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