Tuesday 11 December 2018

Micheál Martin: Government's 'tough talking' on border question is 'over-hyped'

Michael Martin
Michael Martin
Laura Larkin

Laura Larkin

THE lack of progress on a solution to the border question ahead of this week's EU Council summit has "exposed the tough talking of the government as over-hyped" the Dáil heard today.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin noted that last December the Taoiseach warned that phase two of the Brexit negotiations would be suspended if there was any backsliding on the part of the UK in relation to the backstop deal agreed at the end of 2017.

Mr Martin questioned how the fact that no progress had been achieved to date on a legally binding solution ahead and the fact that there is no consequence for the UK over 'backsliding' on the deal could be reconciled.

The matter has "badly exposed the tough talking of our Government as over-hyped and more focused on headlines rather than substance", he said.

In response Mr Varadkar said Brexit negotiations are “dynamic”.

“I think first of all it's important to say that the Brexit negotiations are dynamic and things change week on week - we have to make judgement calls week on week,” he said.

Walking away from talks inevitably meant eventually returning to them and both he and the Tanáiste Simon Coveney believe that the correct course of action is to intensify negotiations he said.

“Stalling the talks would not be the correct approach,” he said.

Mr Varadkar said that he remains confident that the EU 27 “have our back” in the Brexit talks as the countdown to the March 2019 withdrawal date continues.

“I’m confident that the EU parliament won’t ratify an agreement that undermines the integrity of the single market or for some reason will leave Ireland adrift,” he said.

The Fine Gael leader confirmed that the government will ramp up its planning for a no-deal Brexit scenario.

Meanwhile, he will also use the Dáil recess to continue a diplomatic offensive across Europe, meeting his counterparts across the continent at both engagements in Ireland and abroad.

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