Nigel Farage’s success could help Theresa May to get Brexit deal, says Coveney

Tánaiste sees obligation for Tories and Labour to find middle ground position

Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage  visiting an e-cigarette and vape shop whilst on a European Parliament election campaign rally in Merthyr Tydfil, south Wales on Wednesday. Photograph: Geoff Caddick/AFP/Getty.

Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage visiting an e-cigarette and vape shop whilst on a European Parliament election campaign rally in Merthyr Tydfil, south Wales on Wednesday. Photograph: Geoff Caddick/AFP/Getty.

 

The relative success of Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party in the forthcoming European elections may increase the chances of British prime minister Theresa May getting her withdrawal deal through parliament, according to Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney.

Mr Coveney said it was too early to try and predict what was going to happen next month when Mrs May seeks to get support for her withdrawal deal in parliament after repeated failures to get sufficient backing from MPs to date for the deal she has agreed with the European Union.

But he said he felt that there was a growing recognition within the UK of the need to bring the first phase of Brexit negotiations to a close and he welcomed confirmation by the British government that they were continuing talks with the Labour Party to try and get some agreement.

“I think there’s an obligation on the Conservative Party and the Labour Party to try and find a middle ground position that can not only unite their parties but actually unite their country because Britain is a desperately divided country on Brexit right now,” he said.

Asked if he feared a strong showing by Mr Farage’s Brexit Party in the Euro Elections on May 24th could make middle ground Tories fearful of backing Mrs May’s deal, Mr Coveney said that he felt a strong showing by Mr Farage’s party might actually help galvanise support for Ms May’s deal.

“I think it may have the opposite effect actually if the Brexit Party does well as people expect they will as a result of frustration among the British electorate - I think that it will be a reminder to the two big parties in the UK that middle ground politics needs to work,” he said.

“It will be a reminder to moderate sensible thinkers who are trying to make things happen there that they need to find a way of compromise or otherwise extremists will continue to sell fantasies which is what Nigel Farage does and is successful in doing politically.

“So it’s a reminder of the pressures on the mainstream political system in the UK to find a way of uniting their country behind a sensible controlled managed Brexit, to move us into a transition period that can allow for time and space to allow the UK and the EU to agree a sensible future relationship.

Mr Coveney was speaking in Castletownroche in North Cork where he was attending a Rural Opportunity event with Minister for Rural and Community Development, Michael Ring and Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys.