Vigilance needed on latest Brexit deal

Issued 19 March 2018

Labour Party Leader and spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, Brendan Howlin TD, has urged caution in response to today's agreement between the UK and EU on the transition period.

Deputy Howlin said:

“While the so-called 'backstop' technically remains in place we appear to be no closer to any solution on how it will work in practice. So Teresa May has agreed it, ruled it out, now ruled it back in again. It doesn't inspire confidence.

“Indeed, only last Friday, the House of Commons Northern Ireland Affairs Committee indicated it had no awareness of any regime anywhere in the world that would reconcile the competing views on the border issue.

"The Irish Government will need to remain vigilant on this issue. The danger for Ireland might be progress on all other issues except ours and a shift in focus on the European side. There has been no evidence to date of that but as I've indicated we will need to remain vigilant.

“There is a hint of unreality about today's announcement. Britain has effectively accepted the EU's position lock, stock and barrel.

“The only concession would appear to be the permission afforded to the UK to negotiate trade deals in the transition period. However, this would appear to be beyond the power of the British state to do - trade deals are lengthy and complicated to do and the UK will already be seeking to do a deal with the EU.

“It is for this reason that the Commons’ Committee on Exiting the European Union at Westminster urged an extension to the transition period. That may well be where we end up.”