Coveney lashes Rees Mogg over border claims

Coveney lashes Rees Mogg over border claims

Tánaiste Simon Coveney has warned outspoken Brexiteer Jacob Rees Mogg to learn about the Troubles and realise the crucial importance of the backstop after the Conservative MP claimed the emergency plan is not needed.

Mr Coveney told Mr Mogg and others like him "need to remind themselves of why we're talking about a backstop in the first place", saying they are putting the peace process in jeopardy by repeatedly downplaying the threat of a hard border.

In a message on social media site Twitter today, Mr Mogg quoted an Irish Examiner article which said both Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Mr Coveney have confirmed Ireland still has no emergency plans for a hard border in a no deal Brexit.

Mr Mogg claimed this shows "no deal means no hard border, so no need for the backstop", sparking fresh anger over the attitude towards the damage Brexit could cause both the Republic and Northern Ireland in a worst case scenario.

Asked about the comments, Mr Coveney said the Government is continuing to focus on what British Prime Minister Theresa May says and not the views of an individual backbench MP.

However, noting the "potential corrosive effect" the return of a hard border could have and that thousands of people have paid "the ultimate price" to ensure the peace process, the Tánaiste added Mr Mogg should learn the realities of Irish history before making any further remarks.

"Many people paid the ultimate price because of the absence of a successful peace process.

All legislators in Westminster do need to remind themselves of why we are actually talking about a backstop in the first place, and the history between these two islands which is deep, which is close, which is desperately tragic for a large part of that history.

"I'm not sure the focus in Westminster is where it should be in terms of why this issue is part of the negotiation in the first place... People like Jacob Rees Mogg in my view would do well to focus on Irish history," he said.

Mr Coveney separately said it is "extraordinary" of some British politicians to "blame" Ireland for the Brexit stand-off, adding the "responsibility" for avoiding a hard border lies with Britain and that Ireland has no emergency plans for the return of "physical infrastructure" on the border.

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