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Brexit: Flanagan rejects May's 'no deal better than bad deal' stance

Minister criticises British leader’s claim that ‘no deal with the EU is better than a bad deal’

British Prime Minister Theresa May has said in a BBC interview that divorce talks with the European Union would be difficult, responding to the tough stance taken by EU leaders over the upcoming Brexit negotiations. Courtesy: BBC's Andrew Marr Show

Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan has said: ‘No Brexit deal amounts to a very, very bad deal, not only for the UK but for Ireland and the EU.’ Photograph: Eric Luke

British prime minister Theresa May’s repeated claim on Brexit that “no deal is better than a bad deal” has been strongly rejected by Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan.

Ms May was speaking after European Union leaders on Saturday unanimously approved tough guidelines for negotiations on Brexit, including a commitment to protecting Ireland’s interests and a guarantee that Northern Ireland could rejoin the EU as part of a united Ireland.

In an interview on the BBC, Ms May once again stood by her comments that she would prefer walk away from Brexit negotiations rather than agree to a deal that was bad for Britain.

Mr Flanagan said he fundamentally disagreed with Ms May’s claims, adding that no deal would lead to punitive tariffs and other serious difficulties.

“No deal amounts to a very, very bad deal not only for UK but for Ireland and the EU,” he told The Irish Times.

‘Swingeing’ tariffs

Mr Flanagan added: “The EU has made it clear it wants a deal. We in Ireland particularly want a deal, given our proximity and the potential adverse impact. No deal will be bad for everybody.

“There will be swingeing tariffs and disastrous consequences for business and it could take years for it to play out as the UK begins to operate under World Trade Organisation rules.”

“It’s important that negotiations will commence in mid-June and begin in an orderly way. That’s what Ireland wants and the EU wants.”

He warned if Britain walked away it would throw hundreds of thousands of EU citizens in the UK into chaos and would mean similar chaos for millions of UK citizens across the EU.


The EU27 leaders in Brussels took just one minute to approve the guidelines at the special EU summit on Brexit in Brussels, before breaking into applause.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said he was pleased with the outcome, adding that the guidelines fully reflected Ireland’s concerns.

He described the statement about the future status of a united Ireland in the EU as hugely important.

The declaration regarding Ireland paves the way for Northern Ireland to automatically become part of the EU if it ever wished to join the Republic in a united Ireland.

Mr Kenny stressed, however, that the statement’s purpose was to ensure that Brexit “does not undermine any provision of the Good Friday agreement”, rather than to move towards Irish unity.

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