Saturday 24 March 2018

Bigger majority for May could benefit Ireland with better Brexit deal - Hogan

British Prime Minister Theresa May. Photo: Reuters
British Prime Minister Theresa May. Photo: Reuters
John Downing

John Downing

Ireland could benefit from British Prime Minister Theresa May's bid to get a stronger mandate in the June 8 general election, EU Commissioner Phil Hogan has said.

The former Fine Gael stalwart also paid a warm tribute to Enda Kenny - but said he believed he will soon step down as Taoiseach.

Mr Hogan said that there were "more encouraging messages" emerging from Mrs May and her British government colleagues in recent weeks.

He noted that she had not mentioned leaving the EU customs union in her letter late last month triggering the Article 50 Brexit process, and her language in 2016 about "a hard Brexit" had been toned down of late.

"This is a completely different journey now from the rhetoric that went on during the referendum campaign.

"I also hope that the prime minister can see the error of suggesting that the United Kingdom leave the customs union," Mr Hogan told the Irish Independent.

The Agriculture Commissioner said the forthcoming British general election could benefit Ireland's efforts to mitigate the effects of Britain leaving the European Union. "If she gets a stronger majority, she may have more flexibility to do a better deal from the EU's perspective, and in Britain's own interests, and of benefit also to Ireland," Mr Hogan said.

The EU Commissioner acknowledged Irish farmers faced big challenges from Brexit. But he said that even as it leaves the EU, Britain has far bigger trade there than with anyone else.

He downplayed the likelihood of Britain opening markets to cheaper beef from South America.

He said future UK-EU trade relations would have a focus on food safety and quality to protect Irish farmers.

Irish Independent

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