Wednesday 7 December 2016

Ambassador warns Brexit would affect trade and jobs

Michael McHugh

Published 11/02/2016 | 02:30

Dan Mulhall Photo: KOBPIX
Dan Mulhall Photo: KOBPIX

Ireland's ambassador to the UK has said he is confident a deal will be done between Britain and the EU over Europe.

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Proposals recently put forward in an effort to avoid a Brexit are "significant", Dan Mulhall said.

He said Ireland supports British efforts to improve competitiveness, such as promoting the single market, boosting the digital economy and tackling climate change.

"I am confident, I am optimistic that a solution will be found that will enable the government to go to a referendum with a new set of proposals for the British public," he added.

A summit of EU leaders on Brexit is due next week. British Prime Minister David Cameron has been meeting key EU figures over a draft deal aimed at keeping Britain in.

Mr Cameron has called for greater British sovereignty and restrictions on in-work benefits for EU migrants known as an "emergency brake". The Northern Ireland Affairs Committee of MPs has been holding an inquiry into the effect of Brexit on Northern Ireland.

Mr Mulhall told the committee the Irish Government supported Britain on welfare fraud reform, but said the provisions were still being worked on.

He said Ireland had a similar proportion of its population born outside the state as Britain but there was not the same focus on resistance to migration.

The ambassador said the renegotiation process reminded him of Ireland after voters rejected the first referendum on the Lisbon Treaty and the country sought further concessions.

He said the key issue affected by Brexit would be trade, adding that the trade in goods and services was worth €65bn last year and 400,000 jobs relied on it.

"It would be a key concern for us to preserve the advantages of our existing economic partnership with the UK, which has thrived and prospered within the EU and which outside the union would be the subject of question marks, I would say.

"I am not an alarmist, I don't go around talking about catastrophes but I look at things and try to weigh up consequences and I see risks on the trading front and that would be the primary concern."

Irish Independent

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