Belfast Telegraph

Brexit talks could go to 11th hour, warns Irish minister

Josepha Madigan says she does not see any workable alternative to the backstop.

Irish border (Niall Carson/PA)
Irish border (Niall Carson/PA)

By Aoife Moore, PA

An Irish minister has said there is “a lot of posturing going on” in the Brexit impasse and negotiations could go to the wire.

Josepha Madigan, Minister for Culture and Heritage, said she does not see any workable alternative to the current backstop proposal, but is open and waiting for a solution from Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

“It’s very difficult to tell at this moment in time, often in negotiations it can go right up to the wire and the last minute,” she said.

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Josepha Madigan (Brian Lawless/PA)

“It can happen between countries as well, it’s the same principles, there’s a lot of posturing going on, but we along with the EU have set out our stall and we hope the UK will find a way to ratify the withdrawal agreement or demonstrate an alternative to the backstop.

“I don’t see how that is in any way achievable at the moment but there is always hope.”

Speaking in Dublin, Ms Madigan refused to be drawn on whether she trusted Mr Johnson.

“It’s not about trust, I understand negotiations, I understand there is posturing, I do understand people might say one thing in private and one thing in public, whether what he’s saying is what he’ll follow through with remains to be seen.

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(PA Graphics)

“He voted for the withdrawal agreement in the past, it may be that that happens. We take each day as it comes and hope sense will prevail.”

The former solicitor and mediator said she understands negotiating and believes the stalemate can be resolved.

“It is an impasse and there are ways of resolving anything, but it’s a matter of getting both the parties to the table and identifying issues that are similar and try and reach a compromise,” she said.

“It could be that we go to 30 October, it wouldn’t surprise me, and if it were at that stage and we reached a deal that’s OK as well, there is time. I know there’s talk of Boris coming back in 30 days with a plan, we might be able to move forward then.

“From Ireland’s position, because of the Good Friday Agreement, because of the fragility of Northern Ireland, we cannot reach a compromise in relation to the backstop, there cannot be a time limit, it is an insurance policy absolutely crucial for this country, but there may be other ways, in the future relationship, for compromises and the UK will be aware of that.

“A lot of people forget what the Troubles were, and many of the younger generation aren’t aware of the effects it had.”

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Boris Johnson (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Mr Johnson and European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker will talk on Tuesday as efforts continue to find a Brexit deal.

The Prime Minister has been urged to come up with “concrete proposals” on how he wants to achieve his aim of getting rid of the Irish backstop.

PA

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