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DUP MP Sammy Wilson Michael McHugh via PA Images
Tit for tat

DUP's Sammy Wilson accuses Irish govt of being 'hysterical' and 'self-centred' over Brexit

Wilson was criticising comments made by Tánaiste Simon Coveney in Stormont yesterday.

DUP MP SAMMY Wilson has accused the Irish government of being “hysterical” and “self-centred” in relation to its reaction to recent comments by Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Brexit. 

Speaking to reporters in Belfast yesterday morning following a meeting with new Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Julian Smith, Tánaiste Simon Coveney described British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s comments earlier this week as “very unhelpful”. 

“The statements of the British Prime Minister yesterday in the House of Commons were very unhelpful to this process,” Coveney told reporters yesterday. 

“He seems to have made a deliberate decision to set Britain on a collision course with the European Union and with Ireland in relation to the Brexit negotiations, and I think only he can answer the question as to why he is doing that.”

Responding to Coveney today, Wilson said:

The hysterical and self-centred response from the Irish government to the reasonable demands of the Prime Minister to have the backstop removed from any exit deal from the European Union speaks volumes.

Wilson said the “megaphone reaction demonstrates that the blatant attempts by Leo Varadkar and co to use the Irish border as a means of undermining Britain’s referendum has backed fired on them and they know it”. 

“The Irish government walked the world stage and styled themselves as the victims of British aggression. ‘Poor little Ireland’ may have worked in the past but people are growing tired of the same old tune. The game is up,” Wilson said.

They have overplayed their hand and they need to change course.

National Day of Commemoration Ceremony Tánaiste Simon Coveney Brian Lawless Brian Lawless

‘Pandering to Ireland’s grumbles’

Prime Minister Boris Johnson entered 10 Downing Street as Prime Minister on Wednesday. In his first speech as PM, he pledged to leave the EU by the Brexit deadline of 31 October.

“The people who bet against Britain are going to lose their shirts,” Johnson said.

The doubters, the doomsters are going to get it wrong again…We are going to come out of the EU on October 31 – no ifs, no buts. We will do a new deal, a better deal that will maximise the opportunities.

“I have every confidence that in 99 days time, we will have cracked it. But do you know what, we’re not going to wait 99 days because the British people have had enough of waiting.”

Boris Johnson visits Manchester Prime Minister Boris Johnson giving a speech in Manchester today Rui Vieira Rui Vieira

In his statement today, Wilson said that “instead of pandering to Ireland’s grumbles”, the UK should be now making it clear that “in the event of a no deal, if the Irish, as they have claimed, will impose tariffs on goods coming from the United Kingdom into Ireland, then the British will be doing the same on Irish goods”.

“It’s quite clear that the Irish believe tariffs can be collected on goods travelling from Northern Ireland to the Irish Republic on the border, so there is absolutely no reason why the taxes can’t be collected on the other side without disrupting trade flows or requiring physical infrastructure,” Wilson said. 

He added that “it’s very obvious that a deal which avoids the backstop is possible”. 

“Ireland’s own admission that it will not be imposing a physical infrastructure in the event of no deal, demonstrates there is no chance of a hard border being required or even happening,” Wilson said.

If there is any side which is to set itself on a collision course it is the EU and the Irish. 

Wilson has called on Johnson to stick to his commitment to leaving the EU on 31 October, adding that “it’s his best chance of getting a touch of reality in Brussels and Dublin”. 

He said that he will be “enquiring as to who gave the Irish Foreign Minister access and permission to use Parliament Buildings for a press conference to attack the UK Prime Minister”.

United Ireland

In his statement, Wilson didn’t address the comments made by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in relation to a United Ireland yesterday. 

Varadkar said yesterday that if Johnson wants a deal, he will have to go back on some of the comments he’s made this week, particularly in relation to the backstop.

Speaking at MacGill’s Summer School in the Glenties, Co Donegal, Varadkar said that he doesn’t know whether there will be a United Ireland in his lifetime, but has said that he thinks that those in Northern Ireland will reconsider their role in the union.

“I honestly don’t know – I do think that more and more people in Northern Ireland, certainly in the event of a no deal, will come to question the union,” Varadkar said.

He said that having a Green Paper or a form on Irish unity would be “provocative” in the current climate, and said that the Irish government was simply “trying to achieve the status quo” and not, as has been accused of them, “exploiting Brexit”.

With reporting by Gráinne Ní Aodha and Órla Ryan

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