Irish government mounts concerted attack on UK position on Brexit trade talks

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Irish Taoiseach Micheál Martin (L) and foreign minister Simon Coveney (R) have attacked Boris Johnson's attempt to violate the Brexit treaty

As opposition to the British government’s proposed Internal Market Bill continues to mount, the Irish foreign minister has made a strong intervention in the debate.

Simon Coveney says the UK government is behaving in an “extraordinary way” over its roughshod treatment of the 2019 withdrawal agreement.

The government has already admitted that the IMB violates the original Brexit treat in addition to breaking international law, albeit in a “specific and limited way”.

Speaking to the BBC’s Andrew Marr program, Coveney commented that it would be “difficult” for trade talks between the two sides to continue if the IMB is ratified by the British Parliament.

“How then can the EU proceed with these negotiations, and put a new agreement in place, which will be the basis for a new relationship, if existing agreements, which aren’t even a year old, are being legislated against?”, Coveney asked rhetorically.

Coveney’s robust intervention comes in the wake of Prime Minister, Boris Johnson’s claim that the EU is threatening to impose a “customs border” in the Irish Sea, effectively separating Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK.

But the Irish foreign minister dismissed the PM’s assertion as a “completely bogus argument”.

Looking ahead, Coveney did not rule out a trade deal but implied the likelihood of an agreement is receding owing to the fact the UK had created “enormous tension” in the negotiations in the “very little time left to get a deal”.

"In my view it is possible to get a trade agreement, it will probably be a basic, pretty thin trade agreement, but it is possible to do that", Coveney added.

Coveney’s interview with the BBC preceded an equally robust intervention by the Irish Taoiseach (Prime Minister), Micheál Martin, who said the UK should expect a “firm and strong” response from the EU to the IMB.

Martin also cautioned the UK side against “playing politics” with ongoing trade negotiations.

The warnings by the Irish government come against the backdrop of mounting opposition to the IMB, especially within the UK.

Earlier today (September 13), former British Prime Ministers, Tony Blair and John Major, urged Parliament to reject the Tory government’s attempt to sabotage the 2019 Brexit treaty.



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