Ireland’s EU trade chief says next UK PM might axe Brexit
Ireland’s newly nominated EU trade commissioner has said the United Kingdom may have a new prime minister in several weeks who may opt to cancel Brexit.
Phil Hogan told an event in Dublin that the mass rebellion of Conservative MPs had improved the likelihood of another Brexit extension beyond October 31 and a general election in November.
Both Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) leader Arlene Foster, in Northern Ireland, dismissed UK media reports of a U-turn in the DUP’s Brexit policy weeks ahead of the October 31 deadline (see below).
Previous prime minister Theresa May was dependent on the 10 DUP MPs to maintain the parliamentary majority she lost by blundering into an early general election in June 2017.
Johnson, however, has since sacked 21 Conservative MPs and lost others in defections and resignations. He may now be gambling that a new Brexit agreement can win cross-party support, with a renewed Labour push to agree a deal.
The embattled UK prime minister, Boris Johnson, who leads a minority government, was in a “vulnerable position”, Hogan said, whose new role means he will be crucial to the next stage of Brexit talks.
Johnson was expected to make “every possible effort to do a deal” before the resumption of the London parliament on October 14, he added, “but not everyone around him wants a deal”. Hogan appeared to be referring to the prime minister’s controversial adviser, Dominic Cummings.
The appointment of an Irish politician as trade commissioner is a significant move by Brussels to address the country’s trouble amid the Brexit crisis.
Hogan added: “You are presupposing that the United Kingdom are going out of the European Union. They may not. Mr Johnson has a big responsibility in the next four weeks.
“It could fall to somebody else on the fifth week and you could have a second referendum and this will be dependent on the mandate that whatever new government the UK will get in November,” he said.
Varadkar and Foster both rejected media interpretations that the DUP may be prepared to accept various EU rules after Brexit, effectively splitting Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK.
The Times reported on the supposed U-turn but Foster swiftly tweeted: “The UK must leave as one nation. We are keen to see a sensible deal but not one that divides the internal market of the UK.
“We will not support any arrangements that create a barrier to east-west trade. Anonymous sources lead to nonsense stories.”
Varadkar said: “I’m not aware of any change in position from the DUP, but the DUP can speak for themselves.
“As far as the Irish government is concerned, our position hasn’t changed.
“We believe the best solution is the withdrawal agreement including the backstop.”
Arlene Foster is hated by LGBT rights activists. Picture credit: Eurasia Times