Tuesday 11 December 2018

Brexit crux makes return of hard border ‘very likely’ – Howlin warns Dáil

Brendan Howlin
Brendan Howlin
John Downing

John Downing

Unless the London government can engage properly in this crucial phase of Brexit talks, then the return of a “hard border” in Ireland appears inevitable, Labour leader, Brendan Howlin has warned.

The former Public Expenditure Minister said pro-Brexit ministers in the British government have described as “absolute rubbish” any talk of UK trading rules being aligned with those of the EU. 

He pointed to a study for the London government which indicated that the Northern Ireland GDP will fall by up to 12pc if a UK-EU post Brexit deal is not done.

The Labour leader raised serious doubt about the deal on the future of the border which was done last December.  

Foreign Affairs Minister and Tánaiste, Simon Coveney, said the December border deal stands – as a minimum requirement. He said it contained clear commitments and would be transformed into a legal text along with deals on other issues like EU citizens rights and UK contributions to the Brussels budget.

“The matters that were negotiated on the border were very clear. We want to make sure there is no pullback,"  Mr Coveney said.

The Tánaiste said Ireland continued to enjoy good EU support on the issue. He said last December’s deal was “a floor” below which relations on the border could not fall. 

He said the Dublin government cannot speak for its London counterpart but he conceded he would be pleased to see more clarity from the British side.

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