Simon Coveney, who is also Ireland’s foreign minister, has described the political events at Westminster as “extraordinary”, as he questioned the logic of politicians who believed a change in leader would deliver changes to the deal struck by Theresa May. He also said time is of the essence for the UK to get a Brexit deal through Parliament, warning that another extension to Article 50 may not be granted by the EU if a deal is not agreed by the latest October deadline. As a result, Britain could trigger a no deal Brexit by “default”, if its MPs failed to get their act together.
Speaking on RTÉ, Mr Coveney said of the current EU deal: “It’s not up for renegotiation, even if there is a new British Prime Minister… The personality might change here, but the fact’s don’t.”
Although the Irish politician described Mrs May as a “decent person”, he strongly criticised “impossible” Conservative MPs who have been hampering the Prime Minister’s efforts to pass a Withdrawal Agreement.
He said: “The EU has said very clearly that the Withdrawal Agreement has been negotiated over two-and-a-half years, it was agreed with the British government and the British cabinet and it’s not up for renegotiation.”
He added: “There will be people like Nigel Farage and some within the Conservative Party who will be making the proposition that ‘look, we have had enough of this, let’s just leave on WTO (World Trade Organisation) terms without a deal’ – in my view not fully understanding or not being honest about the full consequences of that for Britain and Ireland.”
He warned that if politicians are unable to pass a deal a no deal Brexit “could happen by default”, despite the majority of MPs opposing such a position.
Mr Coveney also said Ireland would continue its no deal Brexit contingency planning, following Friday’s collapse of cross-party Brexit talks in the UK.
The news of Ireland’s no deal efforts comes just days after Mrs May’s Brexit secretary said the UK needed to step up no deal preparation.
Stephen Barclay last week called for no deal planning to be brought “at pace”, if MPs fail to back the Prime Minister’s Withdrawal Agreement Bill (WAB).
MPs will vote on the EU deal in the week beginning June 3.
Mrs May is expected to ramp up efforts to get her beleaguered Brexit deal through Parliament today.
She is to being discussions on a new package of measures to be included in the forthcoming WAB aimed at securing cross-party support.
Mrs May is planning on offering MPs a “bold offer” in the hope it will be voted through Commons next month and before she steps down as Prime Minister.