Simon Coveney: New UK Conservative Party leader won't impact Brexit stalemate

A leadership challenge in the Conservative Party will have little impact on the Brexit stalemate, Tánaiste Simon Coveney says.

Speaking in Brussels, Mr Coveney said that despite mounting speculation from Westminster about a potential change of leader, such an outcome would not deliver significant change to the crisis.

"The issues don't change and the arithmetic in Westminster won't change. For us this isn't about personalities, it's about the facts and complexities of Brexit. The UK needs to make its mind up now as to how it approaches the Brexit process, but I think changing personalities doesn't change very much, because the issue are still as complex as they always have been,” he said.

Mr Coveney described the UK as a "desperately divided country" adding there are hardline "purists" within Westminster who do not want to compromise on Brexit.

Mr Coveney contrasted the divisions in London with the agreed approach on Brexit to the sense of national unity in Ireland for a successful outcome:

The opposite has happened in the UK. The two main parties left it very late in the process to talk to each other. They are now, though, and we want that process to result in some certainty.

Without any agreement, he said it is "anybody's guess" as to where the Brexit process goes: "This is about trying to find a way forward that everyone can live with. It's in Ireland's interests for Britain to be happy, and to be more united than they are now on the Brexit question."

British Prime Minister Theresa May has spoken to political leaders in Northern Ireland in an effort to seek progress in the return of devolved government at Stormont.

The Prime Minister has spoken to Sinn Féin's Michelle O'Neill and Mary Lou McDonald, the Ulster Unionist Party's Robin Swann, the Alliance's Naomi Long and was due to speak to the SDLP's Colum Eastwood.

Downing Street said Mrs May had previously spoken to the DUP's Arlene Foster. The Prime Minister's official spokesman said: "The PM is very keen to see progress being made in the talks and the UK Government, working with the Irish Government, is doing everything in its power to make the talks a success."

Sinn Féin president Ms McDonald said she emphasised her determination to resolve "outstanding issues" around Northern Ireland's collapsed devolved administration during a phone call this afternoon.

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