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22nd Sep 2018

Simon Coveney issues strong response to Theresa May’s Brexit stance, blasts Boris Johnson

Dave Hanratty

Coveney Brexit

“There’s a lot of tough talk that the UK can cope with a no deal, and that’s really bad news.”

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney has vocalised fresh objections to the latest developments on Brexit, challenging UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s combative comments from earlier this week.

In her remarks at Downing Street on Friday, May presented Britain as something of a demonised underdog as she doubled down on her intention to leave the European Union.

“No-one wants a good deal more than me, but the EU should be clear I will not overturn the result of the referendum, nor will I break up my country,” she said.

May also provoked a strong reaction with her use of terms like “breaking up our country” and “divides our country in two”, with many people pointing out the irony in her choice of wording.

In the face of major opposition from her peers, May appears intent on seeing Brexit through.

“We will do everything in our power to prevent a return to a hard border,” she noted, in a bid to calm the fears of Northern Irish citizens.

On Saturday morning, Tánaiste Coveney spoke with Marian Finucane on RTÉ Radio 1, where he was definitive on his government’s stance on the Irish border issue.

“There’s a lot of tough talk that the UK can cope with a no deal, and that’s really bad news for both Ireland and the UK,” offered Coveney.

He attempted to play down concerns of the political parties in Northern Ireland, contrasting the relationship between the DUP and the UK with the Irish government’s position that no one political party can hold a veto on proposals for Northern Ireland in regards to Brexit discussions.

“We don’t have a confidence and supply agreement with any one party in Northern Ireland,” said Coveney. “We listen to all of them, including the DUP and the UUP and the Alliance, and the SDLP and Sinn Féin.

“I think that the DUP would accept that Northern Ireland is different,” he added.

Referring to criticism of the backstop, Coveney moved to provide assurances that his government won’t sign anything that doesn’t guarantee British commitment to Northern Ireland.

“There will be no withdrawal agreement if there isn’t a legal backstop,” he said.

“The Taoiseach and I will never sign a treaty that doesn’t ensure that the commitments that have been given to Ireland by the British government are not followed through on on the Irish border.”

Elsewhere, Coveney dismissed the possibility of former UK Foreign Secretary and noted Brexit supporter Boris Johnson once again rising to power.

“Forget about Boris Johnson,” Coveney said. “He’s yesterday’s person.”

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