Saturday 22 September 2018

Ireland's ambassador to UK warns that Brexit will make response to events like spy poisoning 'more challenging'

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Ireland's ambassador to the UK warned that Brexit will make it more difficult to achieve a co-ordinated international response to incidents like Salisbury in the future.

Adrian O'Neill told BBC Radio 4's The Westminster Hour: "The UK leaving the European Union doesn't make the task of achieving a coherent solidarity in response to an event like Salisbury any easier and it does make me wonder in the future, once the UK has left the European Union, that task of ensuring that the necessary solidarity is there among like-minded countries will be more challenging with the UK outside the European Union than within.

"I suppose even just in terms of the process and procedure that are required to arrive at common positions and statements and so on, are transacted more easily when you are part of a collective than if you have to do them as a series of bilateral transactions.

"So I think being part of the club may be just makes it easier to coordinate a more coherent response."

Arriving at a meeting with EU counterparts in Brussels, UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said: "Today the technical experts from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons are arriving in the UK to take the samples from Salisbury, and meantime the Russian denials grow increasingly absurd.

"At one time they say that they never made Novichok, and at another time they say they did make Novichok, but all the stocks have been destroyed ... but some of them have mysteriously escaped to Sweden, or the Czech Republic, or Slovakia, or the United States, or even ... the United Kingdom.

"I think what people can see is that this is a classic Russian strategy of trying to conceal the needle of truth in a haystack of lies and obfuscation."

Mr Johnson added: "What really strikes me, talking to European friends and partners today, is that, 12 years after the assassination of Alexander Litvinenko in London, they are not fooling anybody anymore.

"There is scarcely a country round the table here in Brussels that has not been affected in recent years by some kind of malign or disruptive Russian behaviour. And that is why, I think, the strength and the resolve of our European friends is so striking today."

Johnson said: "I have been very heartened already by the strength of the support that the UK is getting in respect of the incident in Salisbury.

"And, I must say, I think that is partly because they can see that Britain is acting in punctilious accordance with our obligations under the treaty on chemical weapons.

"And I would contrast that with how the Russians are behaving."

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