Simon Coveney says UK guilty of 'perverse nationalism'

Simon Coveney Says Uk Guilty Of 'Perverse Nationalism'
Simon Coveney advocated Britain working with the EU and Canada to reach a joint trade deal with the United States. Photo: Julien Behal
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Reuters and Press Association

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney has said Britain was demonstrating “perverse nationalism” by seeking to reach a trade deal with the United States before the European Union was able to.

“This idea that Britain can get there first is narrow minded thinking, frankly. It's a perverse nationalism when actually Britain and the EU should work together as partners,” he said in an interview with The Times newspaper.


Mr Coveney advocated Britain working with the EU and Canada to reach a joint trade deal with the United States, although the EU does not currently have plans for a major U.S. trade deal.

He also questioned Britain's trustworthiness following its plans to unilaterally delay imposing checks required by the Brexit deal on some food products travelling from England, Scotland or Wales to Northern Ireland.

“It has reinforced an awful lot of the doubts in Brussels about whether or not this really is a British government we can rely on to be a trusted partner when it comes to implementing what has already been agreed,” he said.

His comments follow a meeting earlier this week with an influential group of US Congress members where he spoke about the growing tension between the EU and the UK over Brexit.


Mr Coveney and EU Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic spoke to the Friends of Ireland caucus on Wednesday, including its chairman, Congressman Richard Neal.

The group discussed Northern Ireland and concerns around the UK’s extension of post-Brexit grace periods.

The engagement came as it emerged the UK government is to deploy a senior official to Washington amid concerns that the Biden administration is only hearing one side of the story on Brexit.

The Northern Ireland Office official, who will be based in the British Embassy in the US capital, will engage with the administration and other influential politicians.


The initiative, which was reported by the Daily Telegraph, is being seen as an effort to counter US briefings from the EU/Irish side that are critical of the UK’s stance on the Brexit deal and its recent actions to delay implementation of new Irish Sea trade arrangements.

Good Friday Agreement

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Before he was elected, US president Joe Biden, who has strong ancestral links to Ireland, made clear that a US/UK trade deal would be dependent on Brexit not undermining the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.

Ireland and the EU insist that the Agreement will be undermined if the Northern Ireland Protocol is not implemented.

The UK government announced last week that it was unilaterally extending a series of grace periods, which limit protocol red tape, to allow businesses in Northern Ireland more time to adapt to the new rules.

The European Union is set to launch legal action against the UK.

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