Irish-UK ties at 30-year low: party chief
Relations between the Irish Republic and the UK are the worst they have been in 30 years because of Brexit, according to the leader of Fianna Fáil, Micheál Martin.
He said Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and UK Prime Minister Theresa May appeared to have no substantive working relationship and went for prolonged periods without contact.
Martin is in a confidence-and-supply arrangement with Varadkar’s Fine Gael and he said he was fully aware of the “constructive and chaotic nature” of politics in the UK while saying the neighbours still needed a constructive relationship.
“The drift of recent years and the abrasive public relationship of the last year is very damaging,” he told the British-Irish Association conference in Oxford.
He spoke of a seven-week period earlier this year, during a crucial stage of the Brexit negotiations, when there was no contact between Varadkar and May.
“It is inconceivable that Bertie Ahern and Tony Blair, or Brian Cowen and Gordon Brown would have gone seven weeks without talking at any time – let alone during a crisis.
“At the inter-governmental level, relations are worse than at any time in at least the last 30 years. The taoiseach and prime minister appear to have no substantive working relationship and go long periods without talking to each other,” Martin told the event.
The party leader criticised Varadkar’s deputy, Simon Coveney, for denouncing Jacob-Rees Mogg’s comments about “inspecting” people crossing the Irish border after Brexit.
Coveney should not have dignified the comments with a tweet, Martin said.
“I genuinely cannot see how it is constructive for our minister for foreign affairs to take the time to issue a statement condemning a two-year-old video issued by a Tory backbencher – or for the government to maintain an ongoing public commentary on British politics,” he added.
Another Tory rebel
A Conservative MP who resigned as a minister in July has joined calls for the People’s Vote on Brexit.
Guto Bebb quit as a junior defence minister to vote against May in key votes on the EU.
Bebb said a vote on any final Brexit deal was the only way to resolve parliamentary “gridlock”.
He joins former ministers Anna Soubry, Phillip Lee and Justine Greening on the backbenches.
Bebb told the BBC: “It’s very clear from my perspective that there’s no support for any particular means of doing Brexit in parliament. I think we are looking at gridlock in parliament.
“I think it’s reached the point where we need to allow the people who decided to leave the European Union to actually decide whether they are happy with the deal the prime minister secures, whether that deal secures the support of parliament or not.”
There are growing demands for a People’s Vote. Picture credit: Eurasia Times