Finance Minister says bilateral UK deal not possible
Minister for Finance Michael Noonan has said it will not be possible to have a bilateral trade deal between Ireland and the UK.
Mr Noonan was speaking in response to questions about a House of Lords Committee report which advocated a bilateral deal between Ireland and the UK which would be separate from the UK’s Brexit negotiations.
The Lords Committee suggested that a deal between the two governments should be struck to ensure open borders and allow freedom of movement between the two countries.
However, Mr Noonan has said that such a deal will not be possible because of Ireland’s place within the 27-Member bloc.
“The legal negotiation has to be conducted by the European Union with the United Kingdom and we will be part of the negotiating team with Mr Barnier. We have representation on it already. That’s the official legal position. It’s not possible to sort out then what ever difficulties may emerge on the basis of a bilateral,” he said.
But he said that the Irish authorities were in regular contact with UK officials and that the UK Government were well aware of the main issues for Ireland ahead of negotiations.
“I think the British Government from the Prime Minister down have a very good knowledge now of what we see as the main concerns on the island of Ireland, on the trade across the Irish Sea in both directions and what subsequent relationships there might be with the European Union,” Mr Noonan added.
The Minister said that he and his UK counterpart, Chancellor of the Exchequer Phillip Hammond, would be meeting in January “for a long conversation”.
Mr Noonan also said he was not concerned about Ireland’s international reputation after a report by the charity Oxfam labelled the country as the sixth worst in the world for facilitating tax avoidance.
“I don’t think there is any reputational damage. Oxfam’s remarks are so far wide of what the actual factual position really is that nobody will take them seriously.”