Thursday 27 June 2019

Tánaiste hints at EU move over UK 'red lines'

Talks: DUP MP Nigel Dodds met with Prime Minister Theresa May. Picture: PA
Talks: DUP MP Nigel Dodds met with Prime Minister Theresa May. Picture: PA

Ralph Riegel

Tánaiste Simon Coveney vowed that Ireland and the EU will react in "a positive and helpful way" if Britain revises some of its red-line Brexit demands to Brussels at the 11th hour.

Mr Coveney stressed that, should Britain change its stance over issues such as single-market alignment, the Irish backstop may be removed as a thorny issue in the Withdrawal Agreement negotiations.

The Cork TD also warned that it was now vital Westminster sets out clearly what it wants with just 70 days left to Britain leaving the EU.

"I think if it is possible to see a change in the red lines that the British government has outlined in relation to the conditions of Brexit that it is looking for, then the context around the future relationship discussion and therefore any potential use of the backstop in the future could change quite significantly," he said.

"Michel Barnier has been quite clear this week as have I and the Taoiseach - if Britain chooses to change its red lines, I would like to think that the EU is ready to respond to that in a positive way and in a helpful way.

"But that is a matter for the British parliament, which of course the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) is part of."

Mr Coveney refused to comment on suggestions the DUP was now softening its stance.

Those suggestions followed comments by Nigel Dodds MP after a meeting with UK Prime Minister Theresa May.

"I know the DUP well enough to know that if I encourage them in a direction, they may go in the other direction," Mr Coveney said.

"I am not going to say anything about the DUP - they will make their own decisions. For me, the backstop is about a protection for everybody. It is a fall-back position - it is an insurance mechanism.

"Nobody wants to ever use it because we want a comprehensive future relationship that makes it unnecessary.

"The intention is only to use it on a temporary basis until something more permanent is agreed.

"The EU position remains in complete solidarity with Ireland."

Irish Independent

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