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Irish interests must be protected from UK Brexit instability

9 July 2018

Statement by Brendan Howlin TD
Party Leader and Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Northern Ireland

Speaking today about the high-level resignations of Boris Johnson and David Davis in the UK, Labour leader Brendan Howlin TD spoke about the absolute necessity for Ireland's interests to be protected from instability in the British Government.

Deputy Howlin said:

"Theresa May's Government looks extremely shaky following the resignation of the Brexit Secretary, David Davis, and now Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson.

"The risk for Ireland is that, once again, Theresa May's attention will turn to fixing problems within her government and her slim majority in the House of Commons, rather than concentrating on negotiating her ambitious proposals with the other 27 EU governments. With only months to go until the March 2019 departure date, there is a real risk that no further progress will be made on the Irish border issue until it is too late to secure a solid agreement to keep the border open in any eventuality.

"Leo Varadkar and Simon Coveney should continue to press for the Irish border issue to be resolved by the 20 September special EU Council meeting called by the Austrian presidency. Now that Theresa May is proposing a free trade area involving the UK and EU, this provides the basis for agreeing a solid guarantee on the Irish border.

"It is likely that the UK negotiations with the EU will drag on for months, into the transition period beyond March 2019. We cannot afford to allow any uncertainty about the Irish border to exist beyond the point where the UK actually leaves the EU.

"In the event that the British Government collapses following these resignations, Leo Varadkar should propose that the EU postpones the Article 50 withdrawal date to give time for an election and government formation in the UK. Should the British Labour Party come to power, Jeremy Corbyn should be given time to develop a revised British negotiating position and to consider whether or not the British people should vote again now that so much more is known about the consequences of leaving the EU."