Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern says that from an Irish perspective the proposed Brexit deal which British Prime Minister Theresa May will put to her Cabinet today “seems to address most of the issues and positions that we are concerned about.”
He acknowledged that his position was on the basis of reports “from various spokespersons in the tunnel”.
Mr Ahern told RTE’s Today with Sean O’Rourke show that Mrs May’s “back is to the wall” and she will have a difficult time “trying to convince the Cabinet.”
He pointed out that “all the senior business people in the UK” have been telling her for months about the consequences of Brexit to the UK economy.
“How will she possibly get this through?”
He added: “those people, Gove and Johnson, came out in the campaign saying they would go and negotiate great deals for 60million people. They didn’t tell these people that these countries already have deals with the EU which is 440million people. Now, who is in a stronger position, 60million or 440million?”
The EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier had made a big concession to the UK in relation to a temporary customs arrangement, said Mr Ahern.
When asked about how the UK Cabinet is likely to vote, Mr Ahern said: “you’d need to be a mathematical wizard to work out the votes.”
If Michael Gove votes against Theresa May then “she’ll be doomed”, he added.
Mr Ahern, also said he wished politicians would stop saying that the constitutionality of Northern Ireland would be impacted by the backstop. “People saying that the constitutional position in Northern Ireland will be affected are wrong.”
The ordinary ‘Joe or Mary Soap’ in Northern Ireland will be better off under this backstop deal, he said.
On the same programme, the Democratic Unionist MP Gregory Campbell called for “cool heads and calm reflection” until the details of Mrs May’s proposal are revealed. “Let’s see what it says.
“Let’s not get carried away. In a few hours, we can see the text and then we’ll see what happens.”
However, he warned that it would be a disaster to “buy something that we don’t want.”