Friday 17 August 2018

UK minister who warned of no-deal Brexit is branded 'Eurosceptic hawk'

Liam Fox. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
Liam Fox. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
Laura Larkin

Laura Larkin

The UK minister who said the threat of a crash out of the European Union is more likely than not has been branded a "Eurosceptic hawk".

In a sweeping attack on the EU, Brexiteer minister Liam Fox said the chances of a no-deal Brexit were now at 60-40 due to what he said was the "intransigence" of the Brussels machine.

The international trade secretary said he believed the risk of a no-deal scenario had increased, pinning the blame on the European Commission and Brussels' chief negotiator Michel Barnier. "I think the intransigence of the commission is pushing us towards no deal," he told the 'Sunday Times'.

Reacting to the interview, a spokesman for Tánaiste Simon Coveney said a "sensible Brexit" was not going to be achieved through "accusations".

"A sensible Brexit for the economies and people of the EU, UK and Ireland is not going to be achieved through newspaper accusations.

"It is incumbent on all elected politicians to avoid the damage of a no-deal outcome," a spokesman for the Tanáiste told the Irish Independent.

"To that end, a withdrawal agreement needs to be professionally negotiated between the UK and the Barnier task force in Brussels. This is the Irish Government's focus."

Fine Gael's Brexit spokesman in the Seanad Senator Neale Richmond said Mr Fox's comments were "completely unsurprising", as he is a "Eurosceptic hawk" who has laid the blame for a number of issues at the feet of the EU for many years.

Differ

Mr Richmond said his views on the likelihood of a no-deal Brexit, on which he said he may differ from the Taoiseach and Tanáiste, stands at around 40pc.

He put the odds at "50pc we get a deal at this stage, 40pc [there will be] no deal and 10pc that Brexit doesn't happen".

Detailed negotiations had been taking place at EU level, he said, and are due to resume later this month.

"That's where we want negotiations to take place - interviews with ministers pushing their own agenda are just that, it's not the negotiations," he said. "We want a deal, we think we can achieve a deal by October and I think Theresa May does too."

Meanwhile, a major employer in Northern Ireland, Bombardier, warned the company cannot afford to spend £30m (about €33m) stockpiling parts to mitigate the impact of a no-deal Brexit, but plans to put arrangements in place to do so by the end of the year if it believes it will be necessary

There are fears that the movement of goods could be disrupted by long queues at ports if the UK is unable to reach an agreement with the European Union over Brexit.

Irish Independent

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