Mixed signals on Brexit must come to a stop - Howlin

Issued 17 November 2017

Labour Party leader and spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, Brendan Howlin TD, has expressed concern regarding mixed signals being sent by Leo Varadkar and his government on Brexit.

Deputy Howlin was speaking following meetings between the British Prime Minister and Taoiseach and the respective Ministers for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney and Boris Johnson.

Deputy Howlin said:

"The Taoiseach has been giving contradictory signals for the last couple of weeks on the extent to which he is prepared to exercise a potential veto over the Brexit discussions entering the second phase. The strength of the Taoiseach's statement this afternoon to the effect that a precise solution on avoiding a hard border must be enshrined in the conclusions of the December meeting represents at least the fourth different position he has taken on this issue over recent weeks. In truth, his inconsistency has repeatedly been at odds with the position being presented by the Minister for Foreign Affairs.

"This is already a difficult decision. Responses to questions by Boris Johnson indicated a government that has hardly intellectually engaged on the border question. He didn’t seem to be aware of the position even of his counterpart. The British attitude to the border issue is to sweep it under the carpet to facilitate movement towards more congenial issues from their perspective. They have got some comfort on that from the Taoiseach’s remarks about allowing the talks progress. I had assumed that that there had been developments in discussions that justified the Taoiseach’s more optimistic take last week, but it appears not.

"I have been assured by the Minister for Foreign Affairs that the European negotiation teams remain firmly fixed on the Irish issue. I hope that it the case, and remains the case even if there is progress on the financial question. Yet the responsibility for ensuring the that European eyes remain fixed on the Irish question remain with the Taoiseach and his Minister. It is a difficult line but we need clear and consistent positioning to be adopted by our Government."