'Profoundly flawed at almost every conceivable level': Irish politicians slam UK proposals

'Profoundly flawed at almost every conceivable level': Irish politicians slam UK proposals

Minister of State at the Department of Finance and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, Patrick O’Donovan has described the latest Brexit proposals as not the basis for a deal, but they do form the basis for further negotiations.

He told RTÉ radio's Morning Ireland that he welcomes the fact that the British government has recognised there should be regulatory alignment on the island of Ireland.

The Government wants the three tenets of the backstop agreement to be maintained and the current proposals do not do this.

The three tenets of the backstop agreement have to be maintained, he said.

The British government has responsibilities under the Good Friday Agreement and it was important that "everyone put their shoulder to the wheel" in order to get a deal done.

There remain “huge issues” around the area of customs, which would inevitably lead to a hard border, which the Government will not agree to, he said.

We are "up against the clock".

On the same programme, Alliance Party leader and MEP Naomi Long said she was “profoundly concerned” by the new proposals on Brexit and thinks they are "designed to move further towards a no-deal."

She said she believes that it is "Boris Johnson's objective" to get a no-deal Brexit and "have someone else to blame for the consequences of that."

The British prime minister should be held to account for what he is doing.

The reality is the substance of this is not workable, it is profoundly flawed at almost every conceivable level and completely disregards advice he received from Northern Ireland businesses and crucially from the majority of Northern Ireland politicians.

Ms Long said while there should be discussion, it has to be a discussion on the workability of these proposals.

The situation has gone from “no new border to two new borders, one in the Irish sea and one in some unknown place."

It had been “clearly stated” that a border would put a huge administrative burden on businesses, she said, but it also would mean “businesses are left to decide the terms of not just the membership of the single market but of the single energy market.

"Given that the Assembly hasn't sat in three years, and hasn't been able to get its act together to deal with the regular run-of-the-mill politics, how on earth could you hand a veto in that assembly to the DUP over these arrangements so they could choose to block us going forward in the single energy market and effectively opt to switch off the lights.

"This is a crazy kind of situation", she said.

Johnson's backstop proposals insulting to Ireland, says FF

Lisa Chambers
Lisa Chambers

Fianna Fáil has accused Boris Johnson of being more concerned with a general election than coming up with a Brexit deal.

The party's Brexit spokesperson Lisa Chambers says the proposals put forward are an insult.

"Everything that Boris Johnson is saying now really is in the context of the upcoming election in the UK," said Deputy Chambers.

"He is speaking to his base, he is looking over his shoulder at the Brexit Party and unfortunately what he has proposed was quite insulting to Ireland

"He has reneged on commitments made by previous British governments, he essentially proposed erecting a border on the island of Ireland which he knows will be unacceptable to communities north and south and to the EU."

Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has warned that Boris Johnson’s border proposals should not be dismissed.

They should be analysed carefully as to reject them outright could provide UK politicians with an opportunity to go into an election saying “they rejected our proposals”.

Officials in Ireland and the EU are going to look very carefully at the proposal while British officials will have to explain the proposals further to MPs which means that "by nightfall more details will be known,” he told Newstalk Breakfast.

"I don't like people north and south coming out saying it is a load of rubbish. He (Boris Johnson) did not say this is it, 'hump off'.

"It is incumbent on the Irish Government and the EU to clarify issues.”

Mr Ahern said this is a crucial week and that it was important “that the Irish side of the position is stated".

"If I was Leo I would set out clearly the Irish position, it should be restated that the Customs Union was not the issue in the Referendum in 2016, it only came into the equation after Theresa May's Lancaster House speech with the red line.

“That has to be restated. If there was a change in position on the Customs Union that would be a game changer.”

Mr Ahern advised “we have to set out the case where we see weaknesses.”

There is still time to seek more clarity.

He said he was “not that enthusiastic” about Boris Johnson’s position and he was concerned that a return to border checks would make life more difficult.

The four page document released yesterday suggests the North should keep some EU rules to allow some regulatory alignment with the South.

However, the six counties will exit the Customs Union.

The DUP says the plan to drop the backstop does not mean a border with the Republic.

Jeffrey Donaldson insists the plan will not lead to a resurgence in violence in the North.

"You are going to have customs posts at or near the border because this is about the collection of VAT for example," said Mr Donaldson.

"You don't have to do that over at the border, you could do that at other places.

"Therefore, I pose the question again, why would that incite violence? Who is going to carry out violence on this?

"Why would that be justified in any way?"

- Additional reporting by Digital Desk

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