Simon Coveney: UK needs to decide what it wants

‘I don’t think the EU is in any mood to agree changes to the withdrawal treaty’

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney has said the onus is now on the British government to propose a viable alternative to the withdrawal treaty.

The Irish Government would not block any request from the UK for more time to come up with a Brexit deal, but there needs to be a plan for a "managed, controlled Brexit," he told RTÉ's Morning Ireland.

“There’s still a lot to happen in Westminster before it becomes clear what the UK is looking for. We need to hold our nerve.”

The withdrawal agreement signed by 28 countries, including the UK, was still in place, he said.


“I don’t think the EU is in any mood to agree changes to the withdrawal treaty. We will have to see what the UK is looking for. We don’t know what the British parliament will support. We need to focus on EU unity.”

Mr Coveney went on to explain why he had contradicted Minister for Transport Shane Ross at a briefing in Government Buildings on Tuesday when Mr Ross said there would be Border checks in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

"If Britain leaves without a deal, well, then we obviously have to have difficult discussions with the European Commission and with the UK in terms of how we protect the EU single market," Mr Coveney said on Tuesday after intervening in Mr Ross's answer to a question on the issue.

On Morning Ireland he said: “The backstop will mean minimal checks, limited checks at sea. I just reminded Shane that is the position which we support.”

He also said there was no need for people to stockpile drugs as a lot of planning was already in place to ensure there will be no shortages after the UK leaves the EU.