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Senior Conservative says Ireland's Brexit strategy is because of Frances Fitzgerald controversy

The Tánaiste also told the same BBC show that the Irish government has no desire to delay the Brexit process.

Jacob Rees-Mogg also said that the Irish government fear Sinn Féin.
Jacob Rees-Mogg also said that the Irish government fear Sinn Féin.
Image: Owen Humphreys/PA Images

A SENIOR CONSERVATIVE MP has said that Ireland’s Brexit strategy is down to the recent no-confidence motion in former Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald.

Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg said that Ireland’s current position on Brexit is because of “a no confidence motion in the deputy prime minister, an election and the threat of Sinn Fein”.

However, Brexit was not a relevant issue in the recent political controversy, which centered on Frances Fitzgerald, the Department of Justice and the handling of information related to the Garda Commissioner’s legal strategy to smear Maurice McCabe at the O’Higgins Commission.

An election had been on the cards last week, but that was avoided with Fitzgerald’s resignation. He also appeared to be unaware that the no-confidence motion was never actually voted upon, and that Ireland already had a new Tánaiste.

There have been claims that Ireland has threatened to “veto” the Brexit talks moving on between the UK and EU, even though no such direct threat has been made. Besides, it’s not likely any “veto” would even be required with the EU on Ireland’s side anyway.

Rees-Mogg also said that it’s really important that the UK doesn’t hand over a “great deal of money” to the EU unless they have an agreement on trade.

borris 653_90529523 Source: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

Also speaking on BBC One’s Andrew Marr Show, Tánaiste, and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney said that the Irish government “certainly don’t want to be vetoing anything” when it comes to Brexit talks between Britain and the EU.

The Cork South-Central TD said that the Irish government, “just like the British government”, wants the Brexit process move on to phase two.

He also said the government needed “more credible answers” from the UK before negotiations progress.

During a press conference in Dublin on Friday, European Council President Donald Tusk said Ireland will be consulted on any offer put forward by the UK to deal with phase one issues – which include citizen’s rights, the Brexit bill and the border with Northern Ireland.

The possibility of a hard border has been a major sticking point in negotiations for some time, but after a reported deal on Britain’s divorce bill it’s now the sticking point.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has repeatedly said that the onus is on Theresa May’s government to come up with a workable and practical solution to avoid a hard border.

May, however, is coming under pressure from Brexiteers to walk away from negotiations if EU leaders refuse to sanction the start of phase two talks later this month.

In a letter from a series of prominent Tory MPs printed in the Daily Telegraph today, May is urged to refuse to settle the UK’s “divorce bill” with the EU unless the latter agrees to a free trade agreement ensuring Britain leaves the single market and customs union.

Today, Coveney said: “We want to be able to provide certainty that many businesses are calling for in Britain and Ireland… There is no desire in Ireland to delay this process.

At the same time, we, as a government, have a responsibility to represent the interests of people on the island of Ireland – north and south. Let’s not forget that next year will be the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement which is the basis for the peace process and relations between Britain and Ireland on the island of Ireland.
We believe that Ireland – as an island -  is uniquely vulnerable and exposed to a potential bad outcome from Brexit. That’s why we’re looking for more progress than we have in terms of understanding how border issues in particular… Instead of the border dividing people like it has in the past, it actually brings people together now.

Coveney’s comments here echo previous statements from the government, with both Varadkar and the Tánaiste making a number of statements urging the British government to find the border solutions in recent months.

Read: Beef farmers say hard Brexit would be ‘catastophic’

Read: From the Commons to ‘little England’, Brexit has put the Irish border firmly on the UK map

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Sean Murray

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