Nigel Farage says Irish will consider EU exit if UK fares well
If Britain better off post-Brexit public opinion in Ireland will move, ex-Ukip leader says
Nigel Farage, says twice in the last 16 years the Irish people in referendums have rejected European treaties. Photograph: Vincent Kessler/Reuters
Mr Farage said: “If the British government gets on with Brexit and two or three years down the road, we are clearly better off, better off democratically because we are running our own affairs, better off economically because we’ve reached out to the world, better off in terms of some of our industries and we’ve got our fishing waters back, then the pressure will be on Ireland and public opinion in Ireland will very much move in our direction.”
The former UK’s Independence Party (Ukip) leader told RTE’s Today with Sean O’Rourke show it was “one of the great stories” that is pushed about Ireland that it was a “very pro EU country”.
”Yet twice in the last 16 years the Irish people in referendums have rejected European treaties.”
Mr Farage said there is growing disquiet on both sides in Britain at pace with which Brexit was being handled.
“There is a feeling of ‘please get on with it’ , I would share that criticism with the Irish Government, we need it to be clearer.
“Half the [BRITISH]cabinet backed the Remain campaign and they appear to be reluctant to carry out the will of the people.
“I’ve a feeling that unless they get on with Brexit there will be huge changes within the British political system.
“If we get to 2020 , the date of the next general election, if Brexit hasn’t really been Brexit, if we finish up with a sort of Norwegian model, membership of the European Economic Area, perhaps still membership of the customs union, if we haven’t got our fishing waters back, then the next general election could provide a shock.
“Even bigger than in the Referendum result last June.”
The sudden resignation of Britain’s most senior diplomat in Brussels on Tuesay has raised fears among politicians and officials in Dublin that a hard Brexit is increasingly likely.
Sir Ivan Rogers, Britain’s ambassador to the EU, resigned amid divisions with Downing Street over Britain’s approach to forthcoming negotiations on the UK’s departure from the EU.
In a message to staff Sir Ivan urged his former colleagues not to hesitate to speak truth to power.
“I hope you will continue to challenge ill-founded arguments and muddled thinking and that you will never be afraid to speak the truth to those in power.
“I hope that you will support each other in those difficult moments where you have to deliver messages that are disagreeable to those who need to hear them.”
Irish politicians and senior officials said that the departure of Sir Ivan, who had warned that exiting the EU could take 10 years to negotiate and was criticised by pro-Brexit campaigners, was a sign that Britain was more likely to move towards a hard Brexit.
A hard Brexit deal would likely leave the UK without full access to both the single market and EU customs union. A soft Brexit would leave relations between the UK and EU as close as possible to the current arrangements.
The Irish Times has learned that Irish officials have held a number of meetings with the European Commission’s Brexit negotiators in recent weeks to discuss the future of the common travel area (CTA) after Britain leaves the EU.
At a meeting in Brussels on December 16th, the Irish delegation said maintaining free movement between Ireland and Britain would have no adverse consequences for other member states and would not violate any EU rules.
According to an internal commission report, the meeting was attended by 11 Irish officials drawn from the Departments of the Taoiseach, Justice, Social Protection and Foreign Affairs as well as four members of the commission’s Brexit negotiating unit, led by deputy chief negotiator Sabine Weyand.