Simon Coveney dismisses UK claims about Northern Ireland as "spin and not true" 2 weeks ago

Simon Coveney dismisses UK claims about Northern Ireland as "spin and not true"

"That is the kind of inflammatory language coming from Number 10 which is spin and not the truth."

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney has said that Britain's reputation as a negotiating partner will be damaged if it continues down its current route and dismissed claims the EU could block goods entering Northern Ireland as "spin and not true".

Coveney, speaking on The Andrew Marr Show this morning, also insisted there will be no return of a hard border on the island of Ireland.

He said he has not yet spoken to his UK equivalent but hopes to speak to Michael Gove over the coming days.

"We're in a difficult place, it's been a very bad week for trust between the EU and the UK, mainly because of the approach of the British government which really has been quite extraordinary this week," Coveney said.

Writing in The Telegraph this weekend, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the controversial legislation he has proposed to override parts of the Brexit deal is needed to end EU threats to install a “blockade” in the Irish Sea.

“We are being told that the EU will not only impose tariffs on goods moving from Great Britain to Northern Ireland, but that they might actually stop the transport of food products from GB to NI," Johnson said.

"I have to say that we never seriously believed that the EU would be willing to use a Treaty, negotiated in good faith, to blockade one part of the UK, to cut it off; or that they would actually threaten to destroy the economic and territorial integrity of the UK."

However, responding to these claims, Coveney said they were not true.

"There is no blockade proposed. That is the kind of inflammatory language coming from Number 10 which is spin and not the truth," Coveney said.

He said the Withdrawal Agreement had agreed to limited checks on goods from Britain into Northern Ireland but the agreement stipulates the need to prevent physical border infrastructure on the island of Ireland.

The controversial UK Internal Market Bill is set to be debated by MPs this week and has caused widespread criticism for the inclusion of powers for UK ministers to “disapply” previously-agreed rules relating to movement of goods, including any under the Northern Ireland Protocol of the Withdrawal Agreement.