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21 Aug, 2019 14:45

'We won’t be steam-rolled’: Ireland’s deputy PM rules out bilateral talks with UK

'We won’t be steam-rolled’: Ireland’s deputy PM rules out bilateral talks with UK

Ireland will not enter into bilateral talks on no-deal Brexit planning with the UK and won’t be “steam-rolled” by red lines drawn down by Boris Johnson, Deputy Prime Minister Simon Coveney has said.

Coveney’s comments come after the UK’s Sun newspaper reported that Johnson will float the idea of Ireland temporarily abandoning EU trading rules and partnering with the UK in a separate deal instead to avoid the need for the controversial “backstop” measure in the Brexit withdrawal agreement.

Under that plan, Ireland would win a “special dispensation” from Brussels to diverge from EU rules and align with the UK until “alternative arrangements” could be made.

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Speaking to Irish broadcaster RTÉ, Coveney said Ireland was not refusing to talk to Britain. Yet, Dublin will not be “facilitating” the UK in backing away from commitments made to honor the Northern Ireland peace deal, which the reinstating of a hard border on the island after a no-deal Brexit could put at risk.

Coveney also told RTE that Ireland could not abandon the agreed-upon deal “for some kind of promise on the basis of trust” from London. Such a move he said would create “collateral damage in Ireland to solve a problem in Westminster.”

We are not in the business of being steam-rolled at the end of this because a British prime minister has rolled out new red lines.

Tensions between the neighbors have heightened in recent days as Johnson penned a four-page letter to EU officials demanding the removal of the backstop – the measure to ensure an open border is maintained.

European Council President Donald Tusk denied the request and accused Johnson of supporting the re-establishing of a border on the island due to London’s failure to come up with “realistic alternatives.” Johnson has floated the idea of using “technology” as a solution, but experts have said the technology required does not exist.

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Johnson is set to hold talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday, followed by a face-to-face with French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday ahead of the G7 summit in Biarritz.

He will likely use the meetings to make another push for the removal of the backstop, which he has panned as “undemocratic” and said could be replaced by other “creative” solutions.

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