Theresa May backs joint World Cup bid from Ireland and post-Brexit UK
A joint UK and Ireland bid to host the football World Cup would help strengthen relations across the Irish Sea post-Brexit, the Prime Minister has said.
Theresa May described the “tantalising” prospect of hosting the 2030 tournament as she outlined ways to bolster the bilateral relationship with the Irish Republic when the UK leaves the EU.
Diplomatic ties between London and Dublin, which have improved markedly in recent decades, have been put under renewed strain during the Brexit process.
On a visit to Belfast on Tuesday, Mrs May said people on both islands “yearned” for a “close and trusting” relationship.
Mrs May said recent joint UK and Irish commemorations to mark the sacrifices of the First World War demonstrated the strength of the bilateral links.
“Today those ties of family and friendship between our countries are more important than they have ever been,” she added.
“And I believe there is a yearning in the hearts of all the peoples of these islands for a close and trusting relationship between all of us, and an absolute horror that we should take even a single step backwards in the progress we have collectively achieved.
“So I want to work closely with the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and the Irish Government, as so many of our predecessors have before, to strengthen the bilateral relationship we have built.
“And this can and should take many forms.
“We already have the British Irish Intergovernmental Conference, and regular Summits between UK and Irish politicians. But as we leave the European Union, we will need to establish new ways of coming together to develop further our unique relationship.
“For example, the Irish Government has suggested annual meetings where the Prime Minister and Taoiseach, together with senior ministerial colleagues, come together to discuss the big issues of the day.
“We will also want to strengthen our economic relationship and have already together identified areas like construction and smart cities as ripe for enhanced collaboration.
“And both the UK and the Irish Governments have already made clear that we would support the tantalising possibility of a joint UK and Ireland World Cup Bid for 2030, should our respective football associations choose to pursue this.
“We also want to find creative ways of enhancing the links between all our peoples – and in particular, to build the links between our young people.
“I know there is a sense that many British people do not know enough, or understand enough, about the complexity of the long relationship between the UK and Ireland.
“And a sense that some Irish people are less familiar with the forces and motivations that help to shape views in the UK.
“So as part of these new ways of coming together, I would like to us to look in particular at opportunities for our young people to discuss these issues and others in a structured way and to reflect on their vision for our future relationship.”