Tánaiste: Brexit agreement 'cannot be taken for granted'

A potential breakthrough in the Brexit negotiations can't be taken for granted, according to the Tánaiste Simon Coveney.

Mr Coveney has warned just because a proposal on the backstop may be agreed by British Ministers it does not mean a final deal is done.

A Cabinet meeting to approve Theresa May's plans has been delayed after tensions among Ministers in the UK.

Speaking to the Irish-Canada Business Association this morning, Mr Coveney urged caution that a deal can be done soon.

The Foreign Affairs Minister said: "An imminent breakthrough is not necessarily to be taken for granted, not by a long shot. People seem to make the same mistake over and over again, assuming that if the British Cabinet agrees something, well then that's it then, everything is agreed.

"This is a negotiation and needs to be an agreement, of course between the British government, but also the European and the 27 countries."

The UK's Shadow Minister for Northern Ireland, Stephen Pound has said he believes that British Prime Minister Theresa May can get her Brexit backstop plans through the House of Commons.

However, the Labour MP for Ealing North, says that the British parliament cannot vote until they see all the documents including legal advice.

The Conservative government has been under growing pressure to publish its legal advice on a backstop deal as ministers are expected to meet in the next few days to approve it. Conservative Brexiteers have joined Labour, the DUP and the Liberal Democrats in calling for the advice given to the prime minister by attorney general Geoffrey Cox to be made public.

Mr Pound told Newstalk’s Pat Kenny show that “leaping off a cliff” cannot be contemplated because of the possible damage to the Good Friday Agreement.

He said the reality is that “government leaks like a sieve” and that politicians will see the legal advice anyway. Theresa May “should be upfront and show it to us now.”

Parliament cannot be expected to vote without first “seeing the full picture.”

“It would be like buying a pig in a poke.”

The Northern Ireland Shadow Minister said that putting a time-frame on any possible compromise does not help.

He said: “The EU is not a grim monolithic body. I think it’s open to all sorts of deals.”

There is a possibility to “recast” the UK’s relationship with the EU, he said.

“At the end of the day, we could have a better EU, a bespoke EU. I think there’s hope for us Europeans. There are plenty of opportunities.”

He added that he thinks the Prime Minister can get a backstop deal through the House of Commons “if only because the alternative of leaping blindfolded off a cliff is not good”.

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