Lack of proposals from UK on breaking Brexit impasse 'a source of real frustration', says Tánaiste

Lack of proposals from UK on breaking Brexit impasse 'a source of real frustration', says Tánaiste

There is currently no basis for reopening negotiations with Britain on Brexit, Tánaiste Simon Coveney has said.

Mr Coveney expressed "frustration" that British prime minister Boris Johnson and his Government have yet to provide any new solutions or proposals in writing that could lead to new talks with the EU on Brexit.

"We don't have detail on proposals that have come forward from the British government. I mean, there essentially aren't detailed proposals in writing, which has been a source of real frustration, particularly for the Barnier task force," he said.

"I think you saw that yesterday when Michel Barnier said at the moment, there's no basis for the reopening of a serious negotiation, because there's no proposals coming forward."

Speaking at the close of the Fine Gael think-in in Ballycotton, Co Cork, Mr Coveney added that there are concerns in Europe around the so-called Stormont lock which has been put forward.

"I think the key thing here is that if there is going to be an alternative arrangement that replaces the backstop and the withdrawal agreement it's got to do the same job. That's got to be legally sound. It's got to be negotiated in Brussels between the team for the UK and Michel Barnier's task force. I think that's where these ideas get tested.

There is certainly a concern at an EU level that a devolved institution in Northern Ireland could have a veto over how the single market operates or a border on the single market operates, so it's not as straightforward as some people are suggesting.

"We will explore all ideas that are being brought forward by the British government but they will be rigorously tested because this has to stand up to real scrutiny."

Separately, Mr Varadkar said he does not have sleepless nights over Brexit, but acknowledged that the issue is worrying.

He told Newstalk Breakfast that the forthcoming Budget will be different because of Brexit and dismissed Fiscal Advisory Council criticism saying: "There is a difference between running a country and running a business. As politicians, we have to respond to the demands and needs of the people."

When asked about bookies' odds that he is no longer favourite to be the next Taoiseach, he responded: "I don't think the gloss has worn off, it's normal for opinion polls to go up and down, bookies odds change, it's not something that concerns me."

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