Sunday 23 July 2017

Farage 'hanging around Brussels acting like a juvenile delinquent' - Hogan

Nigel Farage suggested Irish people could want an EU exit. Photo: REUTERS
Nigel Farage suggested Irish people could want an EU exit. Photo: REUTERS
John Downing

John Downing

EU Commissioner Phil Hogan has warned that "Brexit is a mess and getting messier" as the threat of Britain leaving the Single Market intensified.

And he described UKIP's Nigel Farage as acting 'like a juvenile delinquent', while dismissing Mr Farage's claims that Ireland could also leave the European Union.

EU Commissioner Phil Hogan. Photo: Reuters/Francois
EU Commissioner Phil Hogan. Photo: Reuters/Francois

Mr Hogan signalled that the future of the peace process was central to Ireland's case in Brexit negotiations, which are due to start in late March.

Mr Hogan was scathingly critical of Britain's conduct of the Brexit process since the outcome of the referendum on June 23. "Clearly, Brexit is a mess and getting messier," he said in an interview with the Irish Independent.

But Mr Hogan said that to protect freedom of movement on the island, the British government would have to make an exception in the interests of the peace process.

"Hopefully, the European Union will be able to persuade the British government in this situation that the island of Ireland and the peace process is a project worth protecting.

"Various British ministers have indicated otherwise in the context of leaving the Single Market and the Customs Union. This would inevitably lead to a 'hard border,'" he said.

Mr Hogan's comments came as British prime minister Theresa May hinted the UK would leave the Single Market and pledged to lay out her strategy for Brexit in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, Mr Hogan has roundly rejected claims by Brexit campaigner Nigel Farage that Ireland may follow Britain's example and leave the EU.

Mr Hogan launched a scathing attack on the Ukip MEP, calling him a "juvenile delinquent hanging around corners in Brussels telling others what to do about the EU".

The commissioner said that although Mr Farage was a leading light in the Brexit campaign, he now had no clue what Britain's next move should be. Mr Hogan also insisted Ireland "has deep and long-standing links with mainland Europe".

Read more: Monday Interview: Peace process is central to Brexit talks - Hogan

Last week, Mr Farage said he did not support the view that Irish people were major supporters of EU membership. He pointed out that Irish voters had twice voted 'No' in referendums on EU treaties, and he argued that if Britain could show it was better off outside the EU, Irish people would have a rethink on the issue in the coming two to three years.

But Mr Hogan said that Mr Farage had used EU taxpayers' money in the past to intervene in an Irish referendum on the EU's Fiscal Treaty in May 2012. The commissioner said Mr Farage had distributed leaflets in Ireland with "misinformation" on the issue.

"But Irish voters rejected his claims and endorsed the Fiscal Treaty. I'm also confident that he completely underestimates Irish people's deep and long-standing links with the peoples of mainland Europe. That was even cited in the 1916 Proclamation, which mentions 'gallant allies in Europe'," Mr Hogan said.

The commissioner said Mr Farage was a leading figure in the campaign last summer to have Britain leave the EU. "Now, he has no clue how the country should proceed. He has demanded that the prime minister should produce a plan - but he has none himself," Mr Hogan said.

The commissioner said if Mr Farage was sincere in his negative views about the EU, he should follow the example of the British commissioner, Jonathan Hill, and resign his position in Brussels.

Irish Independent

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