Sunday 25 August 2019

Theresa May's former Chief of Staff claims Britain needs 'to help Ireland's young and inexperienced leader' with 'impossible Brexit demands'

Leo Varadkar Inset: Nick Timothy
Leo Varadkar Inset: Nick Timothy
Jane Last

Jane Last

British Prime Minster Theresa May's former Downing Street Chief of Staff has said Britain needs "to help Ireland's young and inexperienced leader back down from his impossible Brexit demands".

In an op-ed penned for the UK's 'Daily Telegraph', Nick Timothy launched a passionate defence of his former boss's attempts at striking a deal for Britain's exit from the EU.

He wrote Mrs May is "making good progress in removing the blockages", relating to the country's exit payment and the role of the European Court of Justice.

However, he contends the biggest problem "is the status of the British border".

"The EU says we need solutions for the Irish border before the second phase of talks can begin, but the problem cannot be resolved until talks move to the future relationship," he wrote.

"Until recently there was a growing appreciation in Europe of this Catch 22 problem.

"But the recent demands made by the Irish Government, and notably its threat to veto a move to phase two of Brexit talks without a written guarantee that there will be no hard border between Ulster and the Republic, are now the most dangerous obstacle to a sensible agreement.

"To be fair, Irish anxiety is reasonable. They have no desire to leave the EU, and Brexit is a huge risk for them – a risk they did not choose to take. Britain needs to be sensitive to these facts and focus on finding practical solutions to the challenge. That is why Theresa May has said, ever since the referendum, that she is determined to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic.

"But Leo Varadkar, the Irish Taoiseach, seems to be trying to force the UK into positions that are understandably unacceptable to London: that the UK should remain a member of the Customs Union, or that Northern Ireland should do so, thereby creating an internal border within the United Kingdom."

Later in the piece, Mr Timothy writes: "Having taken a bold stance, Varadkar may find it difficult to back down. Some believe he is bluffing, and trying to force Britain into concessions, but it is more likely that a young and inexperienced leader, under domestic pressure and confronted with Brexit, is miscalculating: European diplomats tell me that Varadkar's recent ultimatum took even Brussels by surprise."

Mr Timothy states the outcome will be "ruinous" for Ireland if the UK leave the EU without a deal. He claims the Taoiseach's "hardline" stance could make this vista a reality.

"The Europeans need to make clear to Ireland that the surest way to a hard border is a no-deal Brexit, which is precisely what, with its hardline stance, the Irish government is risking.

"And if we think the consequences of that outcome are bad for Britain, they will be ruinous for the Republic: Varadkar must know this.

"The Europeans and the Britism want to move to phase two: Varadkar now needs to avoid a terrible miscalculation," he concluded.

Mr Timothy lost his job as Joint Chief of Staff at Downing Street after Theresa May's disastrous general election last year when she lost her party's majority following a gaffe prone campaign.

Before he lost his job, Mr Timothy was special adviser to Mrs May in her former position in the Home Office, following her to Downing Street. He was considered highly influential with Mrs May and his resignation after the election was judged to be a huge blow to the prime minister.

Although many have seen Theresa May as 'Remain' - although she never stated her position in the referendum campaign in 2016 - Mr Timothy has stated on the record he voted to leave the EU.

Online Editors

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