A change in British prime minister will not shift the fundamental realities of Brexit, Ireland’s deputy PM has warned, saying there is no chance of the EU ditching or watering down the Irish backstop.
Wholesale changes to Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement have been suggested by some as a way of avoiding a no-deal Brexit, but Coveney told BBC One’s The Andrew Marr Show on Sunday: “If the approach of the new British prime minister is that they’re going to tear up the withdrawal agreement, I think we’re in trouble. I think we’re all in trouble, quite frankly.
“That’s like saying, ‘Either give me what I want or I’m going to burn the house down for everybody’.”
A no-deal departure would not be the fault of the EU, Coveney said, but would be entirely down to UK political considerations. If it happened, he added, Ireland would need to impose some form of border checks with Northern Ireland to safeguard its position in the EU single market.
He said: “Just because there’s a change in personality as British prime minister doesn’t mean that the negotiation of the last three years and the solutions that were designed by the British government as much as by the EU aren’t still as relevant and important today as they were six or eight weeks ago.”
While the Sunday Times has claimed Ireland and other EU nations could be willing to give way to a Johnson government to avoid no deal, Coveney said major changes to the backstop – the insurance policy to avoid a hard Irish border if no other solution can be found – such as adding a time limit, were simply impossible.[...]
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