Monday 5 December 2016

Irish officials strive to learn all they can about Leadsom

Published 09/07/2016 | 02:30

Tory leadership candidate Andrea Leadsom Photo: REUTERS/Paul Hackett
Tory leadership candidate Andrea Leadsom Photo: REUTERS/Paul Hackett

Success for Theresa May in the battle to become the next British Prime Minister looks like the better outcome for Ireland, as the perilous Brexit continues to unfold at a snail's pace.

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The Irish Government currently knows almost nothing about her rival Andrea Leadsom and officials are busy trying to learn all they can.

At first glance, her strong pro-Brexit stance and long-standing Euroscepticism do not bode well for this country, whose fortunes depend on the UK's EU exit terms.

Irish ministers and officials know Ms May better and there has been some cordial contact between her and Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald over justice affairs.

True, her position on European justice issues could prove problematic, notably her calls for Britain to withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights, which is repeatedly cited in the Good Friday Agreement.

Many view Ms May as being in pole position. But a six-week campaign looms, with an electorate of 150,000 Conservative Party members who are older and more avowedly Eurosceptic. Ms Leadsom's potential appeal to this membership could prove crucial.

With outgoing Prime Minister David Cameron now in his final weeks, Dublin officials are preparing to build a new set of beneficial relationships, whatever outcome is announced on September 9.

EU Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan was back in England yesterday, where he campaigned during the Brexit campaign. Speaking at Kent County Show, he said it was time to deal with the referendum result.

Irish Independent

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