Ireland warns of 'civil unrest' on UK border as hopes of new Brexit deal fade
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Sept. 20, 2019
The Irish deputy prime minister warned on Friday of potential "civil unrest" on the UK border if Brexit talks fail.
He said the country would not be "collateral damage" for Britain's Brexit plans, as he poured cold water on reports that a new deal was close to being negotiated.
"We need to be honest with people and say we are not close to that deal right now," he told the BBC.
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Ireland's deputy prime minister has warned that Brexit could lead to "civil unrest" on the border with the UK as he poured cold water on suggestions that Europe and the UK were close to securing a new Brexit deal.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4 on Friday morning, Tnaiste Simon Coveney said there was still a "wide gap" between the United Kingdom and the European Union.
Talks have stalled over Prime Minister Boris Johnson's insistence that the EU must scrap the controversial Northern Ireland backstop element of the existing deal.
The backstop is the insurance policy which would keep the UK tied to EU trade rules after Brexit if no alternatives are agreed in time, in order to prevent a hard border with Ireland.
The UK has instead proposed a series of alternative arrangements to a full hard border, which primarily consist of unspecified technology and trusted trader schemes allowing any border checks to take place away from the border.
However, Coveney this morning said "when they [the proposals] have been tested, they haven't stood up to scrutiny."
He added: "That's just the truth of it and it's important that we are honest about it."
He warned that any arrangement that doesn't fully deliver the effects of the current backstop would lead to new border checks, which would have "very damaging and very difficult" rammifications for the island of Ireland.
These would include "the management of civil unrest," he said.
Coveney added: "We cannot allow the Ireland to be the collateral damage. For Britain to ask us to do that, is a very unreasonable request and it won't be the bases for a deal."
Coveney said that while Ireland believed Johnson was "serious" about finding a revised Brexit deal before the October 31 deadline, "we need to be honest with people and say we are not close to that deal right now."
Coveney: 'Everybody needs a dose of reality here'
Border Communities Against Brexit
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker told Sky News on Thursday "we can have a deal."
However, Coveney on Friday said "everybody needs a dose of reality here."
He told the BBC: "What we [Ireland] are being asked to do by Stephen Barclay [UK Brexit Secretary] and others, is to replace a guarantee on the border that solves it, with a promise that, somehow, we will do our best to try to solve it in the future but we don't know how just yet. That doesn't sound like a good deal to me."
He added: "What we [Ireland] won't do is pretend we are solving a problem to get past a political obstacle and then have to level with people in a few months time and say actually, the solution doesn't work at all."
Brexit talks 'have gone backwards'
Johnson is attending as well as Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.
Multiple Brussels reporters have said EU officials are gloomy about the prospects of a new Brexit deal.
Analyst Mujtaba Rahman on Thursday tweeted "things have gone backwards" whle The Telegraph's Peter Foster quoted a source who said talks were "basically back to summer of 2017."
One Brussels source told Business Insider that recent reports in Britain that Johnson was moving closer to reaching a revised deal with the EU were "total s--- from Westminster sources."