Saturday 22 July 2017

Farage: 'Irexit' in two years if UK better off after leaving EU

Nigel Farage Photo: REUTERS
Nigel Farage Photo: REUTERS
Niall O'Connor

Niall O'Connor

Leading Brexit campaigner Nigel Farage believes Ireland may follow Britain and exit the European Union.

Former Ukip leader Mr Farage said there was a perception that Irish voters were major supporters of the EU - but that he did not believe this was the case.

He said if Britain was in a better place in two or three years - after Prime Minister Theresa May activates Article 50 - then momentum may grow in Ireland to take a similar step.

"If two or three years down the road and we are clearly better off... I think if we can do that, then the public opinion in Ireland is going to move in our direction," Mr Farage told RTÉ's Seán O'Rourke.

Mr Farage, who is a serving MEP, said Irish voters twice voted 'no' in referenda on EU treaties.

He also said he agreed with frustrations expressed by Irish politicians over the delay by London to spell out its Brexit strategy.

"I do agree with the Irish Government. We do need the Brits to be clear about what they want," Mr Farage said.

He added: "I think it's important that the British government develop something of a plan.

"I believe it's important now, over six months since the referendum, we know what type of relationship that they wish to have with the European Union. It's not clear, to date, what that plan might be.

Clarity

"I believe that it's important now that we move towards a position of clarity. This is the most important and urgent economic challenge of our time."

British Prime Minister Theresa May will visit Ireland later this month to discuss Brexit, and will meet with Taoiseach Enda Kenny during her trip.

Speaking later on yesterday, Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan dismissed as "fanciful thinking" the claims put forward by Mr Farage.

He said Ireland was on "Team EU" in the negotiations.

"I think that's somewhat fanciful thinking. I'm not sure how familiar he is with Ireland or Irish people. I don't subscribe to his view. Irish people have embraced the European project," said Mr Flanagan.

Positive

And he added: "Ireland would obviously wish, post Brexit, that the relationship between the UK and the EU would be close. Our preference obviously is what has been described as a 'soft Brexit'."

Asked about the resignation of the British ambassador to the EU earlier this week, Mr Flanagan said: "We in Ireland have always enjoyed a very positive and constructive relationship with Ivan Rogers. It's important that we work well with everybody."

Irish Independent

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