Pence tries to humiliate us on Brexit prior to Johnson visit

Pence tries to humiliate us on Brexit prior to Johnson visit

So, it is finally happening.

The deeply divisive British prime minister Boris Johnson has confirmed he is to arrive in Dublin next Monday.

After weeks of prevarication, Johnson will finally meet his counterpart Leo Varadkar at a time of great strain in Anglo-Irish relations.

Amid rowdy scenes in the House of Commons yesterday, Johnson confirmed his intention to cross the Irish Sea.

“In particular, we recognise and I advise the Members opposite to pay attention to what is being said.

"We recognise that for reasons of geography and economics, agrifood is increasingly managed on a common basis across the island of Ireland.

We are ready to find ways forward that recognise this reality, provided it clearly enjoys the consent of all parties and institutions with an interest.

“We will also be discussing all this with the EU shortly and I will be discussing it with the Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, when I see him in Dublin on Monday,” he said.

At only his second time at the dispatch box as prime minister, Johnson struck a deeply antagonistic tone in calling on MPs to reject what he called “Jeremy Corbyn’s Surrender Bill” and not force him to beg the EU for a further pointless delay to Brexit.

He was, of course, referring to opposition plans to block his government from leaving the EU on October 31 without a deal.

But before he got going, the new prime minister was dealt a fresh blow by losing his working majority in the Commons after the defection of Philip Lee to the Liberal Democrats.

Lee crossed the floor of the House of Commons just as Johnson began giving a statement on last month’s G7 summit.

“I have reached the conclusion that it is not possible to serve my constituents’ and country’s best interests as a Conservative Member of Parliament,” Lee said in a statement.

“This Conservative government is aggressively pursuing a damaging Brexit in unprincipled ways. It is putting lives and livelihoods at risk unnecessarily and it is wantonly endangering the integrity of the United Kingdom.”

Accused of being a “tin-pot dictator” by Ian Blackford, Commons leader of the Scottish National Party, Johnson for the first time had to endure the sort of pressure he helped heap on his immediate predecessor, Theresa May, who sat in the chamber beside veteran MP Ken Clarke.

But at the same time, Irish hopes were dealt a blow by the deeply conservative and homophobe US Vice President Mike Pence.

How dare he? The cheek of him coming here, eating our food, clogging up our roads and then having the nerve to humiliate his hosts.

In a highly curtailed and controlled media outing in Farmleigh where pesky reporters were barred from asking questions, Pence did the dirty and backed Johnson and not Ireland.

Having hyped up his Irish roots and his previous times here, Pence made it clear it is for the EU and Ireland to bend the knee to Johnson if a hard Brexit is to be avoided.

Standing beside a somewhat uncomfortable Leo Varadkar, Pence firmly put his support behind Johnson calling on Ireland and the EU to “negotiate in good faith” on Brexit.

Pence said the EU must work with the UK to minimise economic disruption in Britain.

“Let me be clear. The United States supports the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union in Brexit,” he said.

“But we also recognise the unique challenges on your northern border.

“And I can assure you we will continue to encourage the United Kingdom and Ireland to ensure that any Brexit respects the Good Friday Agreement.

As the deadline for Brexit approaches, we urge Ireland and the European Union as well, to negotiate in good faith with Prime Minister Johnson, and work to reach an agreement that respects the United Kingdom’s sovereignty and minimises the disruption to commerce.

“The United States will look to play whatever hopeful role we can play.

“As President Trump announced last week, when Brexit is complete, the United States will have a new trade agreement with the United Kingdom,” he said.

Pence did say the Good Friday Agreement must be protected but stressed that America stands behind the UK’s decision to leave the EU.

The damage done by Pence’s words was compounded by the words uttered by Varadkar just said immediately before the VP’s statement.

The Taoiseach pleaded with Pence to take home with him the message that a no-deal Brexit would be disastrous for Ireland.

“That is why we must stand our ground on the withdrawal agreement.

“An agreement which was carefully negotiated to overcome all these risks.

“And so Mr Vice President I ask that you bring that message back to Washington with you.

“This is not a problem of our making,” the Taoiseach spoke plainly.

Certainly not an ideal backdrop as the Taoiseach prepares for his first face-to-face meeting with Johnson.


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