Europe

Brexit: Anti-backstop arguments 'farcical' says Coveney

Simon Coveney Image copyright PA
Image caption Simon Coveney said people should not get carried away by rumours.

The Irish foreign minister has criticised the "farcical arguments" being made in relation to the Brexit backstop.

Simon Coveney made the comments at the Irish Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee on Thursday.

He said it was "incredible" the British Parliament had allowed the Brexit to reach this stage without resolution.

However, he added that "it is possible to have a managed, controlled and predictable Brexit".

His comments came ahead of a fresh defeat for the UK government in the House of Commons over Theresa May's Brexit strategy.

MPs voted against the motion which south to endorse the prime minister's negotiation strategy by 303 to 258 on Thursday evening.

However, the DUP voted in support of the government.

'Kindergarten stuff'

On Thursday, Simon Coveney said: "It is incredible, in my view, that the British Parliament has allowed it to come to this.

"I still believe it is possible to have a managed, controlled and predictable Brexit," he added.

In relation to the backstop, Mr Coveney said arguments claiming it was not needed were "farcical" and "kindergarten stuff".

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Media captionConfused by Brexit jargon? Reality Check unpacks the basics.

The backstop is an insurance policy - contained within the withdrawal agreement - which aims to prevent a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland if no other solution can be found through a wider trade deal with the EU.

Those opposed to the backstop, say there are alternative ways to resolve the border issue and that neither the UK or Ireland will put up a hard border.

"If there are alternatives to backstop then they should be explored and tested, and they have been over past two years," Mr Coveney told the Irish Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee.

"The best solution people could come up with was the backstop."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The DUP has insisted it will not support a Brexit plan unless the Irish border backstop is time-limited or removed from the withdrawal deal

'Irish solidarity'

In a no-deal scenario, Mr Coveney said Ireland and the UK would be placed under "enormous strain".

"The EU want a deal, they are watching in astonishment at the way the debates are progressing in Westminster," he said.

"I don't believe the EU is in any mood to sacrifice Irish interests to get a deal.

"The solidarity with Ireland on this issue, I've never experienced anything like it in my political life and it'll hold"

The Irish government said it will publish its no-deal Brexit legislation in full on 22 February.

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