Flanagan asks businesses to help push to keep UK in EU
Minister discusses EU referendum during meeting with British foreign secretary
Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan said: “The foreign secretary knows where we stand in terms of our wish for the UK to remain in the EU.” Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times
Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan has urged Irish businesses to play a part in persuading Britain to remain in the European Union. Speaking at the foreign office in London, at a reception for the British-Irish Chamber, Mr Flanagan said their voices could make an important difference to the debate.
“Our biggest lesson from EU referendums in Ireland is that people need to be informed and feel they understand the issues. Please play your part in achieving that, including through meetings and debates among your own colleagues, staff and clients,” he said.
The EU referendum was among the issues the Minister discussed at a bilateral meeting with foreign secretary Philip Hammond. The British government has identified a number of reforms it wants to secure before recommending a Yes vote in the referendum. They include a deepening of the single market; more power for national parliaments; safeguards for EU countries that do not use the euro; and curbs on welfare payments for people who move from one EU country to another.
“We are committed to working together with foreign secretary Hammond and the British government – as well as our other EU partners – to find solutions which might ultimately help to persuade the UK electorate to remain in the EU.
“The foreign secretary knows where we stand in terms of our wish for the UK to remain in the EU. He knows this from our previous meetings together and from the ongoing constructive engagement by the Taoiseach, myself and our officials,” Mr Flanagan said.
Earlier this month, the Taoiseach used a speech to the Confederation of British Industry to urge Britain against leaving the EU but Mr Flanagan denied that the Government was attempting to exert undue influence on the British debate.
“I stress that my intervention is in no way an interference but rather friendly, neighbourly advice. I enjoy a strong, positive relationship with the foreign secretary over a range of international issues . . . This is part of an ongoing process where obviously as neighbours we’ve much to discuss,” he told The Irish Times.
Earlier, at the Irish Embassy in London, Mr Flanagan launched a programme of events throughout the UK next year to commemorate the centenary of the 1916 Rising.
The events, which already number 87, include concerts, lectures and a photographic exhibition in London and numerous events throughout the country, as well as community initiatives to mark the centenary.