Brexit impasse ‘is not Ireland’s fault and British must fix it’

Tánaiste meets British foreign minister on fringes of Brussels summit

Simon Coveney  and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Malta, Carmelo Abela (right) speak with a colleague  during an European Foreign Affairs Council meeting, in Brussels. Photograph: Olivier Hoslet/ EPA

Simon Coveney and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Malta, Carmelo Abela (right) speak with a colleague during an European Foreign Affairs Council meeting, in Brussels. Photograph: Olivier Hoslet/ EPA

 

It is “not Ireland’s fault” that London is unable to secure agreement in the House of Commons for her Brexit withdrawal deal, Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney has said.

Speaking in Brussels, Mr Coveney said Ireland would not be “steamrolled” into giving ground on the border backstop, the insurance policy contained in the deal that guarantees an open border on the island of Ireland in all situations.

Mr Coveney met British foreign minister Jeremy Hunt on the fringes of a foreign ministers’ summit and restated the EU’s position that the withdrawal agreement would not be reopened. “The Tánaiste reiterated Ireland and the EU’s position that the withdrawal agreement will not be reopened,” a spokesman said.

After the meeting Mr Coveney again rejected any suggestion that the mechanism to ensure a free-flowing border could be altered. Mr Coveney said the blame for the impasse lay not with Ireland, but with the UK Parliament.

“There is a deal on the table. The British government signed up to it. Jeremy Hunt was part of that Government. They haven’t been able to sell that to their own parliament,” he told RTÉ.

“And I accept that has created a lot of uncertainty but it is certainly not Ireland’s fault.

“The responsibility to resolve this problem in terms of the way forward needs to lie where the problem is, which is in London not Dublin. We would be very foolish if we allowed the onus to solve that problem to switch away from Westminster to Dublin.

“We have been consistent, we have been fair, we have negotiated as part of an EU team with the British Government in good faith and we will continue to do that but we will not be steamrolled in this process.”

British prime minister travels back to Brussels this week in an effort to secure concessions on the backstop following several defeats of her deal in the House of Commons. However, both Brussels and Dublin have repeatedly insisted that the backstop is not up for renegotiation, raising the prospect of a no-deal Brexit. - Agencies