EU in ‘no mood’ to sacrifice Ireland’s interests to reach Brexit deal

The European Union is in no mood to sacrifice Ireland’s interests to get a Brexit deal, Ireland’s Foreign Affairs Minister has claimed.

Simon Coveney also hit out at Westminster, saying it is “incredible” that the UK Parliament has allowed the Brexit process to get to its current state.

Speaking before the Oireachtas foreign affairs committee, Ireland’s deputy leader also said that regulatory alignment between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland should be the “default position” in the event of a no-deal Brexit.


“The impact of a no-deal Brexit on Ireland would be severe.

“It is incredible that the British parliament has allowed it come to this,” he said.

Mr Coveney was addressing questions about the impact of the UK crashing out of the EU at the end of March.

“It is going to put Ireland and the UK under a lot of strain, it will damage the economy.

“We have a lot of contingency plans in place to mitigate against the damage.

“The EU wants a deal, they want to manage Brexit and they are watching in astonishment in terms of how the debates progress in Westminster.

“But I don’t believe the EU is in any mood to sacrifice Ireland’s interests to get a deal.

“The solidarity on this issue, I’ve never experienced anything like it in my political life.

“It’s really quite extraordinary the solidarity we have and I think it will hold.”

The Tanaiste also said he hoped the British Government will find a way of backing the Withdrawal Agreement.

“We had a deal, the British signed up to it,” he added.

“There is a strong majority in Westminster that don’t want a no-deal Brexit and want to avoid it but I can’t say that for sure.

“Any sane person who looks at the consequences for Britain and Ireland, I don’t believe that will happen but it could.


“It will dramatically change the commerce and trading environment.”

He said he believes that pressure from Westminster has forced Prime Minister Theresa May to take a different political direction.

“One of the big mistakes in London is the perspective that the EU needs a deal as much as we need a deal, that’s factually just not true,” he added.

“Those commitments (from Britain) still stand and we can’t just wipe the slate clean and have people make farcical arguments like ‘well you don’t want a border, we don’t want a border, the EU doesn’t want a border’, so let’s just pretend it’s not a problem.

“That’s kindergarten stuff.

“In fairness to the Prime Minister I think she has faced down that type of thinking.”

He told the committee that Brexit is costing Ireland hundreds of millions of euros in terms of working capital facilities, loans, upgrading ports and other incentives.

“I’ve to virtually fill half of my day every day on Brexit issues,” he added.