Simon Coveney shuts down BBC interviewer over border question 11 months ago

Simon Coveney shuts down BBC interviewer over border question

Held his ground.

Simon Coveney has proved himself more than capable of answering veiled questions regarding Ireland, Brexit, the border issue, and the UK on a number of occasions at this stage.

Sky's Adam Boulton got a comprehensive answer to a question about Ireland celebrating UK misfortune during a week of tense Brexit negotiations late last year.

And it seems that the Táiniste and Minster for Foreign Affairs is only getting more accomplished at answering these questions.

He appeared on BBC's Radio 4 Today where he spoke with John Humphrys and the pair clashed over Theresa May's attempt to negotiate a time limit on the proposed backstop, a legal guarantee to avoid a hard border "under all circumstances".

Humphrys asked whether the EU were willing to put a time limit on the backstop, but Coveney said that the UK has already committed to a backstop that is there "unless and until" a better option is agreed.

Humphrys responded: "We have moved on from that, that’s what negotiations are about.

"Nothing is agreed in these circumstances until everything is agreed, as well you know."

At this point, Coveney contradicted him and told him he was wrong and that elements of the withdrawal agreement have already "turned green". Coveney said the agreement that there would be no time limit on any backstop was one of them.

He compared the backstop to home insurance that's there in case the worst case scenario happens.

"You don’t ever expect it to burn down, but you do take out fire insurance and it’s there to reassure people there is a fallback position if everything else fails," Coveney said.

As the interview continued, Coveney also accused Humprhys of representing Boris Johnson.

The Radio 4 presenter was debating with Coveney whether or not the proposed backstop would push Northern Ireland into deeper and closer links with the EU.

Coveney responded by saying "nobody was suggesting that", but Humphrys said he was making the point because it's something that both Boris Johnson and David Davis have made.

"Certainly a lot of people in this country are suggesting, including Boris Johnson and David Davis, you know who they are, that Parliament is deeply divided on this issue," Humphrys said.

Coveney dismissed the reference to Johnson saying that he "is not even in the cabinet".

As the conversation got slightly heated, Humphrys said that Johnson "speaks for a very strong powerful force of public opinion".

At which point Coveney said: "Well, John, you sound like you are speaking for him."

You can listen to the full interview here, which starts at the 2.10 mark.