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Solid legal commitment on Brexit is a real diplomatic success. But we still need to prepare for the worst – Hayes

Brian Hayes MEP today said that the European Commission’s draft legal text on the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement signifies a major diplomatic achievement but we still need to be prepared for the worst.

“The solid legal commitment in the EU’s draft withdrawal agreement on the Irish border is an astonishing diplomatic triumph, especially given all the anti-EU noises off-stage that have been given prominence. The Irish political system, government and civil service put in a serious effort in Phase 1 of the negotiations and their progress has been translated into Phase 2 negotiations already.

“However, despite the success of the negotiations so far, we also need to prepare for the worst. The Irish border issue could still derail these talks. The prospect of a failure of the talks come October, or a rejection of the agreement by the UK Parliament, cannot be underestimated.

“Today’s withdrawal agreement is still very much a draft text and is subject to change. The UK government will use all its powers to exert influence on this text.

“It is time now to really start focusing our efforts on the East West issues between Ireland and the UK. With about €1.2 billion worth of trade carried out across the Irish sea every week, we have so much at stake here.

“A deep and comprehensive trade deal between the EU and UK is the big prize at the end of Brexit. This would resolve the great majority of Ireland’s issues in relation to the border and the overall trading relationship with the UK.

“The British political system is still in deep crisis and the UK government cannot seem to produce any sensible policy proposals. It is not the job of the Irish government to solve domestic British politics but we can help to soothe relations between the EU and the UK as we get to the crunch trade talks.

“As the negotiations get going on the future relationship, Ireland has a role to play in helping to build bridges and facilitate a willingness to work towards a comprehensive free trade agreement.”

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