Brexit: Irish Government rejects Stormont veto on backstop

Coveney says NI executive cannot hold veto over implementation of international treaty

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney is in Belfast on Thursday to meet politicians and business leaders to discuss the Brexit impasse. Photograph: Reuters

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney is in Belfast on Thursday to meet politicians and business leaders to discuss the Brexit impasse. Photograph: Reuters

 

The Irish Government has rejected any suggestion that a future Stormont executive could veto aspects of the Irish border backstop.

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney was reacting to a British government proposal that, if the Irish backstop came into operation, the devolved legislature in Belfast would have to agree to any subsequent changes to EU laws impacting on it.

The backstop guarantee within the Brexit agreement seeks to avoid the return of a hard border on the island of Ireland after the UK’s departure from the EU no matter what future trade arrangements are agreed between the EU and UK.

Mr Coveney told BBC Radio Ulster on Thursday: “Let’s not forget what we are talking about here is a withdrawal agreement which is an international agreement between the UK as a whole and the EU as a whole, it isn’t a bilateral agreement between Ireland and Britain.

“And so from that point of view, I don’t think a Northern Ireland executive can hold a veto over the implementation of an international treaty between the UK and the EU.”

Mr Coveney is in Belfast to meet politicians and business leaders to discuss the Brexit impasse.

There was confusion over whether his schedule would include a meeting with the DUP after he claimed the party had declined an offer to hold talks.

However, DUP leader Arlene Foster swiftly responded, insisting she was willing to meet the Tánaiste.

“The party has had useful discussions with the Irish Government in the past,” she said. “I’m happy to meet with the Tánaiste later today in Belfast.”

Separately, Britain’s business secretary Greg Clark this morning called on MPs to come together to prevent a no-deal Brexit.

After the Government suffered two Commons defeats in the space of 24 hours, Mr Clark said it was clear there was no majority for Britain leaving the EU without a deal.

“It is my strong view that we need to come together. We need to act to avoid a no deal because I don’t think there is anything remotely like a majority in Parliament that will tolerate this,” he told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.

“The default is in law that unless we have a deal then we will fall into no deal. Now, I think, is the time for Parliament to recognise this. We need to come together, we need to do a deal.”

“We need to reflect on the points that are going to be made in the debates, but really give expression to that determination across Parliament and conduct ourselves in the way that our reputation internationally has always been - to be pragmatic and dependable - and that means doing a deal.”- PA