Monday 19 November 2018

Brexit stand-off a horror show, warn civil servants

Prime Minister Theresa May speaks during Prime Minister's Questions yesterday. Photo: PA Wire
Prime Minister Theresa May speaks during Prime Minister's Questions yesterday. Photo: PA Wire

Shona Murray and Cormac McQuinn

The 'Irish Question' will remain unanswered when the latest round of Brexit talks end, because Theresa May will not bring forward any new ideas for a frictionless Border today.

As a result, EU leaders meeting in Brussels for a two-day summit will not be supporting British demands to move on to the next phase of negotiations.

EU heads of state and government "want to see more of what the British position is and the mechanics of how north-south co-operation should work" after Brexit, according to senior sources.

Back in Dublin, senior civil servants are worried about the disarray in Westminster and the British government.

"It's a horror show," said one source, adding that the constant feuding meant UK ministers were not issuing orders to civil servants.

A copy of the draft conclusions of this week's summit, seen by the Irish Independent, said that the EU "acknowledges that, as regards Ireland, there has been some progress" on protection of the Good Friday Agreement and maintenance of the Common Travel Area. But it warned that further "refinement" of these principles was necessary "taking into account the major challenge that the UK's withdrawal represents", including as regards "avoidance of a hard Border".

Read More: How Hogan has a place on London's ever-growing list of Brexit enemies

The conclusions also said the expectation was for the UK to "present and commit to flexible and imaginative solutions" called for by the "unique situation of Ireland".

However, Fine Gael MEP Brian Hayes warned a "Mexican stand-off" was brewing if the EU did not become more flexible about moving on to the next phase of negotiations.

Irish Independent

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