Irish leaders air frustration with UK Brexit debate
Ireland’s prime minister, Leo Varadkar, says other European Union leaders would have a “great deal of reluctance” to giving Britain another Brexit delay.
He said the EU felt “very frustrated” and would only offer another delay from October 31 for “a very good reason”, such as a general election.
There are rumours that Conservative leadership frontrunner Boris Johnson will call an early general election if he wins the vote among the party membership.
Varadkar said other EU leaders had “lost patience” with Britain although his tolerance was “endless”. Ireland is divided from the bloc by its larger neighbour to the east.
“There’s very much a strong view across the European Union that there shouldn’t be any more extensions,” he said, although one might only be granted for a general election or a people’s vote on Brexit.
Johnson is heading for a showdown with numerous Conservative MPs as they try to prevent a no-deal Brexit.
The populist hopeful said he would make Brussels “look in our eyes” and believe he was prepared to leave without a deal. He told party members he was not “aiming” to leave with no agreement but refused to rule out suspending parliament to force a hard Brexit through.
Some Conservative MPs are determined to block a “clean Brexit” as it has been rebranded.
Pro-remain Sam Gyimah, a former minister, said “30-plus” Conservative MPs were looking both at legislative options to block Johnson from suspending parliament to stave off “economic mayhem”.
Ireland’s foreign minister, Simon Coveney, has criticised the “inaccurate” Brexit debate during the Tory leadership contest, where contenders had “their own facts”.
“In recent weeks we have observed and listened to some inaccurate utterances about ourselves, the EU and the backstop,” he wrote in the Irish Times.
“Of course, people can have their own opinions, but they cannot have their own facts. The facts are that Brexit is a British decision, triggering Article 50 on March 29, 2017, was a British decision, and the red lines laid down for the negotiation are British red lines,” Coveney said.
The deputy prime minister said “the chances of a disorderly Brexit have never been higher” and Dublin “now considers the risk of this outcome on October 31 as ‘significant’”.
He also warned that a no-deal Brexit would cripple Northern Ireland.
Coveney wrote: “I say read the stark warnings and bleak reports of the Northern Ireland civil service. Listen to farming and fishing groups as well as the diverse business lobby. They all strongly support the backstop.”
Boris Johnson is making pro-Brexit statements to help him win the Tory leadership race and he might change course after his seemingly inevitable victory. Picture credit: Eurasia Times