Ireland’s interests cannot be compromised in any Brexit deal

30 August 2018

Speaking today in response to recent reports on Brexit negotiations, Labour Party Leader, Brendan Howlin TD, asked whether the Government have completely lost any influence over the situation.

Deputy Howlin said:

“The UK Prime Minister has now said the only two options are her Chequers Plan or else No Deal, while elsewhere she and her new Brexit Secretary have claimed that No Deal wouldn’t be ‘the end of the world’. Maybe so, but No Deal could be the effective end of the Irish beef industry among other Irish agri-food sectors that export heavily to Britain.

“May’s remarks are also a negotiating ploy to dilute EU resistance to some of the unpalatable aspects of the Chequers Plan, like cherry picking access to the Single Market. While we most certainly want a good deal with the UK, our Government needs to stand firm on Ireland’s long-term interests.

“Of particular concern is the talk of allowing the deadline to slip beyond the October EU Summit. Glib remarks in the British media have talked of both the UK and EU sides having to speed up seeking agreement from their respective parliaments, but we cannot forget that on our side this means all 27 EU national assemblies in addition to the European Parliament have to agree the final deal. The whole point of the October deadline is to allow time for national governments and parliaments to have their say. Not securing the final agreement until November or later risks destabilising the whole process.

“More importantly for Ireland, if the Irish border is not agreed in advance of the final crunch talks, then the Taoiseach and his Government will have permitted Ireland to be a bargaining chip in the final deal. Securing an agreed backstop in advance is essential to avoid any risk that Ireland’s interests are compromised in the final rush to secure a UK-EU trade deal.

“I’ve already called on the Taoiseach to ensure that the backstop agreement on the Irish border is secured in the exceptional EU Summit being held in September, and he signalled that this was under consideration. But with events beginning to accelerate in an unwelcome direction, where is the Irish Government influence when we need it now?”

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