Belfast Telegraph

Coveney: we would back an extension to Article 50

By Cate McCurry

The Tanaiste has said the Irish Republic would back an extension to Article 50 if the Prime Minister Boris Johnson can make a persuasive case for how it can be used to get a Brexit deal.

Simon Coveney said Ireland would support a request from the UK to extend the Brexit deadline, currently October 31, if it "made sense".

Speaking at an event to get Irish businesses ready for Brexit, Mr Coveney said: "If there is an extension looked for then I think whichever prime minister asks for that will need to make a persuasive case as to how that extension can be used to get a deal.

"Ireland's position has always been if it makes sense to extend to try to get a deal, well then we would support that course of action. What we need to do is control what we understand, and what we control here in Ireland, and that is preparing for the worst but continuing to think about how we can work with a British Government regardless of who leads it between now and the end of October."

MPs voted on Tuesday to seize control of the order paper at Westminster, raising the likelihood of a delay to Brexit and prompting PM Boris Johnson to threaten to call an election.

Mr Coveney said the EU cannot do a deal with Mr Johnson's Government unless it puts forward backstop alternatives.

He said: "If you are advocating, as Boris Johnson has done, that we need to remove the backstop from the Withdrawal Agreement, well then the obligation is on you to make a convincing case that you have an alternative that does the same job.

"Otherwise, you expose a whole series of problems without answers and that's why we've said that this process can't make any progress unless and until the British Government comes forward with actual proposals that make sense so that we can interrogate them."

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