Irish Deputy PM Simon Coveney: UK Must Assure No Hard Border in Ireland Ahead of Brexit Trade Talks

By EU2017EE Estonian Presidency [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The foreign minister of Ireland and newly appointed deputy prime minister has said that the United Kingdom must confirm that there would be no regulatory divergence between the Republic and Northern Ireland before post-Brexit trade talks continue.

Simon Coveney said that the United Kingdom would be asking the Republic to take a “leap in the dark” regarding its future and that it must “give reassurance that there will not be regulatory divergence between the two jurisdictions on the island of Ireland.”

The issue of the Irish border is one of the most critical problems to be resolved before a summit in Brussels from the 14th f December.

Coveney informed the BBC that what the government of the United Kingdom has been asking of the Irish government is only: ‘Trust us, we’ll solve these issues with a broad, bold trade agreement.’ And that may not be possible, we don’t know.

“We can’t be asked here to leap into the dark by opening up phase two discussions in the hope these issues may be resolved.”

Convey continued: “What we are looking for, and I hope what we will manage to achieve and negotiate with the British negotiating team between now and 14 December, is an agreed wording whereby we can agree the parameters within which we can find a solution that prevents the re-emergence of a border on the island of Ireland, and all of the negative consequences that flow from that.”

Over the weekend, Liam Fox, the trade secretary, suggested that there could be no decision on what the Irish border will look like after the UK withdraws from the European Union until there is a final deal between Europe and the United Kingdom.

Ireland has pledged to “play tough” on its threats to veto trade discussions unless it was given guarantees that there would not be a hard border.