Northern Ireland

UK 'should be Ireland's best friend' after Brexit

Boris Johnson and Leo Varadkar Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar were in Belfast on Monday

The former trade secretary Liam Fox has said the UK should try to be Ireland's "best friend" after Brexit.

Diplomatic relations between Ireland and the UK became strained as a result of Brexit but have shown recent signs of improvement.

Dr Fox said the UK may have "missed a trick" when it comes to Anglo-Irish relations.

"We should be working to show the Irish Republic that we are their natural partner."

He was speaking at an Institute for Government event in London.

Image caption Dr Fox served as secretary of state for international trade from 2016 to 2019

Dr Fox said there was "enormous potential" in Anglo-Irish relations and the two countries still have mutual interests.

The Irish border was central to the first phase of the Brexit negotiations.

Ireland insisted there should be no new checks or related controls on its border with Northern Ireland.

The prime minister eventually agreed to that following a meeting with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in October.

In recent weeks, Tánaiste (Irish deputy prime minister) Simon Coveney and the Northern Ireland Secretary Julian Smith worked together on a deal which restored devolved government at Stormont.

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