Monday 18 December 2017

Government: 'Any clarity from UK on Brexit is welcome'

Theresa May has consistently declined to negotiate publicly. Photo: REUTERS
Theresa May has consistently declined to negotiate publicly. Photo: REUTERS
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

The Government has said that it would welcome "any clarity" on the UK's approach to Brexit.

The remarks came as Downing Street confirmed that it will finally outline positions on crucial issues, including the Northern Ireland Border, ahead of renewed Brexit talks at the end of the month.

There has been frustration at the failure of the British government to put forward clear positions on a range of challenges thrown up by the complex process of leaving the European Union.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has recently ramped up the rhetoric, warning that Ireland won't "design a Border for the Brexiteers".

Last night, British Prime Minister Theresa May's spokesman confirmed that position papers, with proposals on future customs arrangements between the UK and EU and the British approach to the Border here, would be published in the coming weeks.

A spokesman for the Irish Government responded: "The Government would welcome any clarity as to the UK's general approach and looks forward to engaging as part of the bloc of 27 EU members states in the next round of negotiations."

Meanwhile, the British government came in for stinging criticism from a former top diplomat, Simon Fraser.

The former head of the foreign office said he did not think the talks had begun well from a British perspective, due to divisions in Mrs May's cabinet.

A Downing Street spokesman said that Mrs May would "disagree strongly" with Mr Fraser's comments and insisted that important progress had been made in the initial rounds of talks with the EU.

Mr Fraser's said on BBC Radio's 'Westminster Hour': "I don't think they [the Brexit talks] have begun particularly promisingly, frankly, on the British side and we haven't put forward a lot because, as we know, there are differences within the cabinet about the sort of Brexit that we are heading for."

He said it would be difficult for the British government to have a clear position until those differences were resolved.

Mr Fraser said the publication of position papers on the British approach to a new customs agreement and the Irish Border would be helpful as "we haven't put much on the table" other than proposals on the status of EU citizens.

He added: "I think we need to demonstrate that we are ready to engage on the substance, so that people can understand what is really at stake here and what the options are."

Irish Independent

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