Brexit bigger than one person and government focussed on interests of Ireland: Simon Coveney

Minister of Agriculture Michael Creed said the focus of the Irish government is now on Theresa May’s engagement with the European Union.

Brexit bigger than one person and government focussed on interests of Ireland: Simon Coveney

Latest: Brexit is "much bigger than one person" and the Irish government would remain focussed “on the policy direction of the British Government", Tanaiste Simon Coveney has said.

Responding to the resignation of UK's Brexit Secretary David Davis, Mr Coveney said the government would continue to take the detail of the British position from the British Prime Minister.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May had hoped that the UK Cabinet agreement secured on Friday would help her deliver the "right Brexit", with an offer to Brussels to share a "common rulebook" on goods and form a new UK-EU free trade area.

Mr Davis's departure just 48 hours after being part of the Cabinet that agreed to Mrs May's has thrown her leadership into crisis.

BorisJohnsonSimonCoveneyNov2017_large.jpg
BorisJohnsonSimonCoveneyNov2017_large.jpg

Mr Coveney told Evening Echo today: “It doesn’t surprise me that there are some in her cabinet who have a problem with that because there is divided opinion in the UK.

“We are going to work on the basis of the Prime Minister’s approach that she outlined this weekend to try to make sure that we protect Irish interests on the border, on the Good Friday agreement, on the common travel area and of course on a future relationship that is as close as possible between Ireland and the UK and the EU and the UK so that we can maintain the very strong trading relationship that we have.”

Speaking about the ongoing negotiations, Mr Coveney said he thought the UK’s new position was a step forward, but not perfect.

“I think it can be the basis of a serious negotiation now. While nobody likes to see people resigning, I think this is much bigger than one person or any group of ministers and our focus is to look after the interests of Ireland which is what we are trying to do and I will let the internal politics of the conservative party to others.

“We will continue to work with the British Government and take their position from the Prime Minister.

“She has to manage the internal divisions within her party just like we would have to if there was a resignation within the Irish party.”

Leader of Fianna Fáil Micheál Martin also reacted to the news of the resignation saying it indicates the challenges and difficulties that Theresa May has been facing.

“It was always going to come to a head and I think that has implications of how we approach it.”

Mr Martin said: “Theresa May is trying to develop a pathway that would minimise the negative impact on both Europe and Britain, however, she faces strong opposition within her party in terms of getting a sort Brexit.

“I think EU needs to be very conscious of this now and our own Government needs to be conscious of the fact that the forces of moderation within the British Conservative Party should be supported rather than attacking everything they do.

“Brexit is damaging to Ireland, no matter what form it takes and we have to keep a cool head in light of current developments and the overall objective has to achieve a soft Brexit.”

- Reporting by Roisin Burke. This story first appeared in the Evening Echo

Earlier: Davis resignation an internal UK matter, says Michael Creed

The Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed has dismissed suggestions that the resignation of Britain’s Brexit Secretary David Davis will throw the latest Brexit plan into disarray.

Mr Creed said that while the latest resignation has not helped matters, “political instability” within the British Government has been the hallmark during its internal Brexit negotiations.

He said the focus of the Irish government is now on Theresa May’s engagement with the European Union.

“The fact there may be contrarian voices in the UK is nothing new, we have been listening to them all along,” he said.

“What we have been concerned about as a government for the last while is the lack of official engagement with the Michel Barnier taskforce and the absence of any concrete proposals coming from the British Government.

“This is an internal UK matter in so far as Cabinet members – our focus is their substance of engagement with the EU and we remain hopeful that there is, first the time, substantial engagement on the detailed issues.

“We are getting a white paper published in the coming days, the signals are that the direction of travel is significantly better.”

Mr Creed was speaking during a meeting with Sebastian Kurz, the Austrian chancellor, at the Irish border on Monday.

Mr Kurz travelled to the Ravensdale border crossing at the Louth/Down border, accompanied by Peter Sheridan, chief executive of Cooperation Ireland.

The minister highlighted the free-flowing border and reiterated the Irish government’s commitment to ensuring no infrastructure is returned to the border.

“We want to get a Brexit that works for everybody and none more so than the communities along the border,” he added.

Mr Kurz said in a press conference that Brexit is an issue for Ireland and the rest of the EU member states.

He pointed out the only sign of a border is the different colour of road markings.

“We now have to find a way to organise a Brexit so there is no negative outcomes for Ireland,” he said.

“The last few days has been a big step, it’s only possible to negotiate if you know the position of the ones you have to negotiate with."

“We have to find a solution, not only for Ireland but for the UK and in the interest of the 27 member states of the EU.

“We are all not happy that the British people decided (to leave the EU) but we have to respect it.”

The Tánaiste has played down the significance of the UK's Brexit Secretary resigning.

Tánaiste and Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney says the negotiations are about more than one personality.

"I think for some time now the British negotiation has been out of Number 10.

"The Prime Minister is the person who makes the final call in relation to Britain's positioning on Brexit.

Our focus has to be to work with the Prime Minister, but in particular to work with the Barnier taskforce to seek and get a lot more detail on the British position.

- Press Association and Digital Desk

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