‘We Expect The British Government To Honour That Commitment’

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Taoiseach Leo Varadkar; Fianna Fáil leader Mícheál Martin

This afternoon.

During Leaders’ Questions.

Fianna Fáil leader Mícheál Martin raised RTÉ’s report from last night concerning an apparent “non-papers” proposal for the border – claims which were dismissed by the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on BBC this morning.

Mr Martin asked Mr Varadkar if he discussed these “non-papers” with Mr Johnson during their recent meetings and asked if he could outline their “provenance”.

He also asked Mr Varadkar if he was aware of them before last night’s report.

Mr Varadkar said he hasn’t seen the “non-papers” but he was aware of their existence.

He said:

“Their existence was public knowledge and commented on the papers – at least in the last week or two. Essentially the UK provided for non-papers to the EU task force on the basis that they be kept confidential and not be shared with member states and they were not shared with member states.”

Mr Varadkar continued to say he welcomed Mr Johnson’s comments this morning “when he disowned and distanced himself from those non-papers”.

He said had Mr Johnson not done so, it would have been “hard evidence of bad faith” on the part of the British government.

He said, in December 2017, the UK government promised Ireland and the EU that there would be no hard border and no physical infrastructure or associated controls or checks, as a consequence of the UK leaving the EU.

He added:

“We expect the British government to honour that commitment made in good faith in the withdrawal agreement.”

He also said:

“No British government should seek to impose customs posts between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland against the will of both the people in Northern Ireland and the people here in the Republic of Ireland.”

And he added:

“When the Government, when we talk about checks, we talk checks being necessary in the context of no deal. And if we face no deal on the 31st of October, if the UK decides, and it will be their decision, to leave the European Union without a deal and operate on WTO rules, then there will need to be checks – at the ports, at the airports, perhaps at business level and perhaps near the border too.

“That is just the reality of the situation. But  that is in the context of no deal. We’ve never been in the position of signing up to checks as part of a deal.”

Mr Martin responded to Mr Varadkar:

“I think, Taoiseach, you need to be careful in terms of welcoming everything that Boris Johnson said this morning because of course Boris Johnson made it clear that, he says ‘we’re going to make a very good offer, bla, bla’ and so on.

“….But if you’re trying to keep, there is a difficulty, he said, if you try to keep Northern Ireland in the Customs Union because one of the basic things of being in a country is you have a single customs perimeter and a single customs union so, in essence why he’s sort of dismissing the non-papers, the essential message of what he’s saying today is: he wants to keep Northern Ireland out of the Customs Union.

“And we’re all in agreement in this House, that Brexit makes no sense, it makes no economic sense, it makes no sense for those doing business or farming in Northern Ireland. It damages the economy all round.

“But I think it seems to me, very clear, that he’s sticking to the idea that he does not want, as part of the exit deal, any provision which would ensure and guarantee that Northern Ireland would remain within the European Union customs union.

“Would you accept that that seems to be his position right now? Or do you have other evidence to suggest that he may be willing to compromise on that?”

Mr Varadkar replied that he believes Mr Martin’s “assessment is correct”.

He added:

“It is his view that the United Kingdom should leave the European Union, whole and entire, to use his language, and that means the UK, including Northern Ireland, leaving the Customs Union.

“But as I explained to him when we met in New York, there is a reason we came up with the deal that we did, after two years of negotiations with Prime Minster May and her government. And what the backstop provides for is a single customs territory.

“It doesn’t provide for Britain or Northern Ireland to stay in the Customs Union. It provides for what’s described as a single customs territory  and that satisfied our demand and our desire that there not be customs checks, north and south.

“But also it satisfied the concerns and desires of many unionists that there not be customs checks east, west. A single customs territory designed specifically to meet that need. And that’s why we ended up with the backstop. And that’s why the backstop is actually the best solution.

“Because it avoids customs posts, north, south. It also avoids customs posts east, west, by having the entire UK within a single customs territory.”

Earlier: Border, Border

UPDATE:

Eoin (from comments) writes:

Sorry, who does Leo think he’s kidding. Boris Johnson has publicly, on several occasions, disowned the 7 December 2017 declaration. He fuppin’ well put it in writing to Donald Tusk in a letter on 19 August 2019:

“Accordingly, as I said in parliament on July 25, we cannot continue to endorse the specific commitment, in paragraph 49 of the December 2017 joint report, to “full alignment” with wide areas of the single market and the customs union. That cannot be the basis for the future relationship and it is not a basis for the sound governance of Northern Ireland.”

Thanks Eoin

14 thoughts on “‘We Expect The British Government To Honour That Commitment’

  1. eoin

    “He said, in December 2017, the UK government promised Ireland and the EU that there would be no hard border and no physical infrastructure or associated controls or checks, as a consequence of the UK leaving the EU.”

    Sorry, who does Leo think he’s kidding. Boris Johnson has publicly, on several occasions, disowned the 7 December 2017 declaration. He fuppin’ well put it in writing to Donald Tusk in a letter on 19 August 2019

    https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/826166/20190819_PM_letter_to_His_Excellency_Mr_Donald_Tusk.pdf

    “Accordingly, as I said in parliament on July 25, we cannot continue to endorse the specific commitment, in paragraph 49 of the December 2017 joint report, to “full alignment” with wide areas of the single market and the customs union. That cannot be the basis for the future relationship and it is not a basis for the sound governance of Northern Ireland.”

    1. martco

      I imagine this is the kind of irrelevant politicking nonsense that went on during the week of 1st September 1939….I often wonder how the boyos must have chuckled to themselves as Chamberlain made the announcement on the radio

      it’s a load of utter bllx

      it’s as if Bojo, Rees-1837 & Cambridge Analytica give a continental fupp…which of course they don’t as they’re fully committed to crashing & rebooting their state as part of their plan. as for Arghleeen she has nothing to lose in the coming chaos

      we continue to play by delusional normal rules (and wait till you see, we still will right up to the final hour) whilst they make things up as they go for whatever rhyme or reason meets their endgame. how anyone remotely believes a syllable uttered from their proven scheming lying mouthes is beyond me

      we’re just the audience & we’re being played like fiddles

    1. martco

      Varadker? sure this suits him

      can you name a single successful thing delivered in any department he’s ran? before the bad news gets to stick to him he hides usually by moving out & on….tis like that Callan Kicks caricature of him – the “lol don’t look at me, it was like that before I got here” type of horsesht

      now he gets the benefit of a massive ray shield- to hide the litany of FG’s tricky bad news stories behind this monster disaster as we all himm & haww well shure what really could he have done about it…sigh
      hm?

        1. martco

          ha. a supremely soft issue. I think if even I somehow ended adjacent to the control room there I would have managed that. but like there’s that & I suppose he can also shave & dress himself to look professional & presentable when at work too, wha.

          1. Rob_G

            ‘A supremely soft issue….’
            – Christ almighty, it is the most contentious political hot potato in this state (apart from maybe the national question) in the past 50 years…

          2. Ghost of Yep

            Kenny called the CA. CA came back overwhelmingly in support of a ref and Kenny made the first soundings of a ref taking place. Leo was in place once it was all in motion.

            Well done Leo?

          3. martco

            I disagree @Rob_G. are you trying to rewrite history here? It was an easy vote, sitting on a plate. He didn’t have to debate & convince any prospective voter it was the right thing to do. I can think of many more influential factors at play at that time than Varadker’s presence…I’d say it was very much a social evo/revolution. you’re having me on, right?

        2. GiggidyGoo

          Conveniently forgetting that he had to see how the wind was blowing before he announced his party’s stance on it. And all his fellow little colleagues couldn’t give their opinion until Varadkar announced ‘his’ – incidentally done on the BBC. Varadkar is a celebrity-hunting coward.

  2. Toe Up

    I expect the British to be ladyparts, especially the current government. You couldn’t expect to witness a more duplicitous shower, apart from some of the Republican administration in the US.

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