Sunday 15 September 2019

Irish politicians warned to steer clear of Brexit talk by not appearing in British media

TDs and ministers warned to dodge British media 'bunfight' and focus on deal

British Prime Minister Theresa May attends the annual Royal British Legion Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall in London
Picture: CHRIS JACKSON/AFP/Getty Images
British Prime Minister Theresa May attends the annual Royal British Legion Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall in London Picture: CHRIS JACKSON/AFP/Getty Images
Laura Larkin

Laura Larkin

Ministers and TDs have been warned to take the heat out of tense Brexit negotiations by not appearing in the British media.

All eyes are now on Theresa May's increasingly difficult balancing act amid fears that further resignations could see any Brexit deal at risk of being voted down by both Remainers and Brexiteers.

DUP leader Arlene Foster continued her offensive against the outline proposals from Mrs May last week. She described the UK-wide customs arrangement as akin to handcuffing the UK to the EU, while allowing Europe to hold the keys.

"The 'new' idea of a UK customs arrangement does not appear to be a genuinely UK-wide offer but a GB offer and an NI offer badged as one - Northern Ireland in the EU customs territory and GB in a customs union," she wrote in the Belfast Telegraph.

In addition to her ongoing woes with her partners in Northern Ireland, Mrs May is also facing further chaos in London.

Jo Johnson, who unexpectedly resigned as a minister last Friday, has said colleagues are "reflecting hard" on their next steps.

The staunch Remainer, and brother of Boris, hit out at the promises made during the Brexit campaign by those keen to exit the union. He called for a second referendum - a position which has been repeatedly rejected by Downing Street. His resignation raises fears that other Remainers will follow suit or be emboldened to vote down a deal.

Yesterday, Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg claimed there was not enough Conservative support to get a deal through Parliament without the support of Labour. British trade minister Liam Fox also issued a fresh warning that Britain may not agree a deal if a solution cannot be found.

State talks: Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon and Chief Minister of Jersey John Le Fondre at the British-Irish Council’s summit on the Isle of Man. Photo: PA
State talks: Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon and Chief Minister of Jersey John Le Fondre at the British-Irish Council’s summit on the Isle of Man. Photo: PA

As the political fray continues in the UK, British officials were due to return to Brussels today to meet with their EU counterparts to continue work on a potential withdrawal agreement with the Irish question still to be resolved.

"It's close but everything is hanging by a thread because of the political situation in the UK," one diplomat familiar with an EU briefing of national envoys told Reuters last Friday.

Against this backdrop, Irish politicians are being urged to stay out of the mix and avoid media interviews on the subject of Brexit in the UK.

"We're staying out of it, there is nothing to gain from us to be in the middle of that bunfight. Our energy is focused on getting a deal," a source said.

Meanwhile, Ireland plans to substantially ramp up efforts to expand our influence "at every level" throughout the US post-Brexit.

Details of the strategy seen by the Sunday Independent do not include specific references to engagement with the White House but it is planned that the Tanaiste, Simon Coveney, will travel to the US in March to launch a new Ireland-US/Canada strategy.

High-profile Congress representatives and senators will be targeted in the hope of increasing the number of visits here from the US.

Sunday Independent

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