Micheál Martin warns Johnson against playing politics on Brexit

Micheál Martin Warns Johnson Against Playing Politics On Brexit
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Digital Desk staff

Updated 20:25. Additional reporting from Press Association.

The Taoiseach has accused British prime minister Boris Johnson of creating "assertions that are in no way connected with the reality" on Brexit.


Micheál Martin has warned that playing politics with Brexit negotiations is "simply not an option", and said politicians in Britain, Ireland, and Europe "have only one obligation — to protect the people we serve, to protect their livelihoods and their jobs".

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney has accused UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson of “inflammatory language” and “spin” over his claims that the EU is attempting to “blockade” goods travelling across the Irish Sea.

Coveney said there may be “limited checks” on goods coming from Great Britain into the region because there is an agreement to prevent the need for physical infrastructure on the Irish border.

The measures were envisaged to stop goods passing from England, Scotland or Wales into the Republic of Ireland via Northern Ireland tariff-free if no wider agreement is struck between the EU and UK.


Mr Coveney said: “There is no blockade proposed.

“That is the kind of inflammatory language coming from Number 10 which is spin and not the truth.”

UK MPs are set to debate the Internal Markets Bill this week, which includes measures to override part of the Withdrawal Agreement signed by the UK and EU nine months ago.

Minister Coveney said the plan has created “enormous tensions” in negotiations and has damaged the UK's reputation internationally.


Speaking on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show, Minister Coveney said Mr Johnson’s claim that the EU is threatening a customs border in the Irish Sea is a “bogus argument”.


“There is no blockade proposed, and that is the kind of inflammatory language coming from Number 10 which is spin and not the truth,” he said.

“What is agreed is that there will be limited checks on goods coming from GB into Northern Ireland, because there is an agreement to prevent the need for physical border infrastructure on the island of Ireland and therefore we have to ensure that goods are not travelling from GB into the single market.”

“The British Government is behaving in an extraordinary way and British people need to know that, because outside of Britain the reputation of the UK as a trusted negotiating partner is being damaged,” he added.

Meanwhile, Justice Minister Helen McEntee has said that Ireland could take legal action over the UK government's plan to override the Brexit deal in a breach of international law.


Minister McEntee said Mr Johnson's plan has damaged trust between the two countries.

“It was voted through the UK Parliament nine months ago, it was voted through the European Parliament nine months ago, and now this week, one side of the agreement essentially has decided to unilaterally change elements of that agreement,” she said.

“I think it has in some way damaged trust between both sides. It’s very difficult to see how you can negotiate a free trade agreement when what has already been agreed is being proposed to be breached less than nine months later.”


It comes as UK Justice Secretary Robert Buckland has said he will resign if his government breaks the law “in a way that I find unacceptable” amid growing criticism of Mr Johnson’s Brexit plans.

The British prime minister is under increasing pressure to back down on plans to override elements of his own Withdrawal Agreement, with former prime ministers John Major and Tony Blair calling on Tory rebels to vote his Bill down, saying it imperils the Irish peace process, trade negotiations and the UK’s integrity.

Mr Johnson has increased his rhetoric as senior Tories prepare to rebel against his legislation, warning that Brussels could “carve up our country” without his new Bill.

EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier said the Northern Ireland Protocol in the Withdrawal Agreement “is not a threat to the integrity of the UK” and denied the EU was refusing to list the UK as a third country for food imports.

UK commons justice committee chairman Bob Neill has tabled an amendment which he said would impose a “parliamentary lock” on any changes to the Withdrawal Agreement.

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