Former taoiseach Brian Cowen warns on Brexit

Brian Cowen

Former taoiseach Brian Cowen has warned Britain that it risks crashing out of the Brexit talks — damaging Ireland in the process — unless it finds a solution to its Irish border stance which he said simply “defies logic”.

Speaking as Britain’s current solutions were ridiculed and rejected outright by EU rivals as “fantasy island unicorn stuff”, Mr Cowen said the reality is the Brexit talks will fail unless alternatives are found now.

In an interview on RTÉ Radio’s Today with Sean O’Rourke, Mr Cowen said Ireland and the EU now has to “wait on the ingenuity of the Brits” to resolve the Brexit stand-off.

However, noting the “very critical period” in the talks, he added there is a genuine fear the negotiations may ultimately collapse due to the inability to find a solution to the Irish border and Northern Ireland question.

“On the face of it they’re [Britain’s commitment to a soft border and its commitment that Northern Ireland will be treated the same as other parts of the UK] not compatible, they’re not, and this is the real dilemma the Irish Government has,” said Mr Cowen.

“We have done our bit, but they need to put flesh on something that defies logic at the moment.”

Mr Cowen said it is not in either Ireland or Britain’s interests for the talks to “fall away” as this will create a hard border on the island of Ireland.

However, while describing this situation as the “worst- case scenario”, he said that unless Britain provides an alternative to its existing proposals in the next 10 weeks, the possibility is increasingly likely.

Mr Cowen is due to speak alongside a number of other former politicians at the Institute of International and European Affairs conference Brexit, Ireland, and the Future of Europe on Monday.

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