EU sent London 'back to the drawing board' on 'cyber border' plans: Phil Hogan

EU sent London 'back to the drawing board' on 'cyber border' plans: Phil Hogan

EU Commissioner Phil Hogan has told senators that the deadline for Britain over Brexit was looming.

He said if there is no decision by the June deadline there will be no withdrawal treaty and therefor no final treaty and called on Britain to face to "face up to the fact that decision time is here" on Brexit.

Speaking in the Seanad Mr Hogan also told senators the EU was not convinced by UK's plans for a "cyber border" and had sent London "back to the drawing board" .

The EU Commissioner also warned of the spread of fake news, including over immigration concerns, ahead of next year's European Parliament elections.

In his special address to the Upper House, the former Fine Gael minister spoke about farming, CAP payments as well as EU trade.

But he had a special warning about the spread of inaccurate stories and fake news, which he warned would become an issue in the lead up to EU elections next May.

“In short, we now have a brand of politics and commentary that, all too frequently, misleads rather than leads.

“If we look a little more widely, we see it is not only Brexit. Our political arguments are becoming coarsened and are having knock-on effects on our behaviour. One sign is the trigger-finger readiness of so many people to play the immigration card, even the race card.

“Much of this is the result of “fake news” – the way in which what we used to call tall stories and gossip no longer goes from mouth to mouth but from one set of fingers to a million sets of eyes. With a tap on the keyboard. Brexit shows us how vulnerable we are.”

Mr Hogan said that next year’s election to the European Parliament gives this “added significance and urgency”.

“We must be on our guard.”

Mr Hogan later today will also attend an Oireachtas Committee to speak about agriculture.

Meanwhile, the British Government has been accused of being in thrall to "Brexit nutters" on its backbenches.

The comments were made by a SNP MP in the British parliamentahead of a debate on a non-binding backbench motion supported by a number of select committee chairs which calls on ministers to secure an "effective customs union" between the UK and the EU after Brexit.

Speaking at Business questions before the debate, SNP Commons leader Pete Wishart said: "Is the Government going to come out and play today in today's customs union debate, or is it going to continue to contemptuously refuse to vote in non-Government business?

"Because can I say to the Leader of the House, there is no running away from this and this will have to be confronted by this Government, and it looks like they haven't got a majority.

"All of the business community are saying they want 'a' or 'the' customs union, but yet they're in thrall to Brexit nutters in the backbench here, who still hold some sort of sway over this Government.

"So can the Leader of the House confirm that if the Government is defeated, the will of the House will be respected?"

Also speaking at the debate Labour's Yvette Cooper said time was running out for Britain's Parliament to "help shape the negotiations" and to hear from the Government about what it is going to do.

"The Government rightly says it wants frictionless borders, no extra burdens on business to improve trade, no hard border in Northern Ireland and including no infrastructure at the Northern Ireland border but there is still no clarity about what that actually means at our borders."

She said Britain does more than £230 billion of export trade with European countries every year, as she warned that many manufacturing jobs depend on frictionless trade.

Ms Cooper added: "At a time when it could take very many years to negotiate new trade arrangements, the idea that we would rip up our existing ones in the meantime would be deeply damaging to many of our jobs and communities."

- Additional reporting by PA & Digital Desk

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