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20th Sep 2019

“Everybody needs a dose of reality here” – Simon Coveney warns of gap between UK and EU on Brexit

Alan Loughnane

Coronavirus spain

“There is still quite a gap.”

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney says that while the mood surrounding Brexit has been lifted somewhat, he doesn’t want anyone to underestimate the extent of the situation facing the UK and the EU.

“I think the mood music has improved,” Coveney told BBC Radio 4 on Friday morning. “We all want a deal, we all know that a no-deal will be a lose, lose, lose for everybody, but particularly for Ireland and Britain.

“But I think we need to be honest with people and say that we’re not close to that deal right now. But there is an intent I think by all sides to try and find a landing zone that everybody can live with here.”

Coveney warned that while there is a genuine willingness to find a deal that works for all parties, they’re still a long way from any sort of agreement.

“Everybody needs a dose of reality here, there is still quite a wide gap between what the British government have been talking about in terms of the solutions that they are proposing, and I think what Ireland and the EU will be able to support.”

The Tánaiste said there is an onus on the British government to come forward if they have alternative proposals to the backstop and that Ireland cannot relent to the mere promise of a future solution.

“There are serious problems that arise because of the change in approach by the British Prime Minister – asking to remove a very significant section within the Withdrawal Agreement without any serious proposals as to how you solve those problems is not going to be the basis for an agreement.

“That’s why I think there is an onus on the British Government to come forward with alternative arrangements – if they have them – which can resolve the Irish border question.”