Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay held talks in Brussels on Tuesday with Ireland’s European commissioner, as the Irish government said the current Brexit deal was the only viable way to avoid a hard border with Northern Ireland, and hinted that a no-deal exit risked installing new border infrastructure on the island -- something it wants to avoid.
“The EU also recognizes that no-deal is in neither side’s interest, that no-deal particularly, if one looks at the asymmetric impact across Europe, particularly impacts Ireland,” Barclay told reporters in Brussels. “The impact of no-deal is greater to the Irish economy than it is to the U.K. so the EU wants to avoid no-deal just as the U.K. wants to avoid no-deal.”
Brexit hardliners have long argued that Ireland will be so scared of the damage a no-deal exit would do to the Irish economy that it will tell the EU to back down on the most controversial part of the withdrawal agreement -- the so-called Irish border backstop. The measure is unpopular in the U.K. because it would keep the U.K. tied to EU trading rules indefinitely unless another solution is found.
Both candidates to replace Theresa May as British prime minister say they want to renegotiate the deal, but the EU and the Irish government have ruled this out.
“A no-deal outcome would be very damaging for Ireland,” said Barclay, who held talks with Irish EU commissioner Phil Hogan and Michel Barnier, the bloc’s chief Brexit negotiator. Lines of traffic stuck at British ports “will not just be queues with U.K. goods in, they will also be queues with 40% of Irish exports in.” [...]