Belfast Telegraph

Tanaiste trying to look tough with warnings over a no-deal Brexit, says DUP leader Foster

Tanaiste Simon Coveney on the Andrew Marr Show
Tanaiste Simon Coveney on the Andrew Marr Show

By Staff Reporter

DUP leader Arlene Foster yesterday accused Tanaiste Simon Coveney of trying to "look tough" ahead of the new Prime Minister taking office.

Mrs Foster was reacting to comments made by Mr Coveney yesterday warning that everyone in the EU would be in trouble if the UK left the EU without an agreed deal - and that Northern Ireland would be "devastated" by a no-deal outcome.

"If the approach of the new British Prime Minister is that they're going to tear up the withdrawal agreement, then I think we're in trouble, we're all in trouble, quite frankly, because it's a little bit like saying: 'Either give me what I want or I'm going to burn the house down for everybody,'" Mr Coveney told the BBC's Andrew Marr yesterday.

The Cork politician said checks would have to be carried out on the island of Ireland in the event of a no-deal Brexit, but those checks would not be done at the border.

Writing in the Sunday Times, Mr Coveney also warned that a no-deal Brexit would "devastate" Northern Ireland's economy.

"If Britain decides to leave without a deal it would cause huge damage to us all," Mr Coveney wrote.

"A no-deal Brexit will devastate the Northern Irish economy with tariffs and rules that will fundamentally disrupt the all-island economy upon which so much progress has been built."

DUP leader Arlene Foster flatly rejected Mr Coveney's analysis.

"I'm disappointed but not surprised by some of the commentary from Simon Coveney today," she told the BBC's Sunday Politics show.

"He's obviously setting out his stall so he can look tough to our new Prime Minister.

"If we don't get a withdrawal agreement, the legal position is that we will leave the EU on 31 October.

"We want to leave the EU with a deal.

"I hope that Simon Coveney and Leo Varadkar do as well, because of course, while it will have an impact on Northern Ireland if we don't have a deal, it will certainly have an impact on the Republic of Ireland.

"I regret that. I want to make sure that we get a deal that works for Northern Ireland, for the Republic of Ireland and for the whole of the United Kingdom - and I would have hoped that politicians in the Republic of Ireland would have wanted to have done that as well.

"What's on the table at the moment, the withdrawal agreement, is bad for Northern Ireland, it's bad for the Union, and it's not something we could support, therefore we're looking to change that - and to make sure that we get a deal that works for everybody." The DUP's Westminster leader Nigel Dodds MP also criticised Mr Coveney's comments, describing Dublin's position as "intransigent".

"Dublin is facing a seriously damaging outcome entirely of its own making," Mr Dodds told the Belfast Telegraph.

"Its adherence to a failed strategy is actually in danger of bringing about the very result they say they want to avoid.

"It really is scandalous that even now Simon Coveney's Government refuses to sit down with either the British Government or parties in Northern Ireland to negotiate a way through the current problem. Such rigid intransigence is totally counter-productive.

"We call on Mr Coveney to immediately enter discourse and dialogue with his neighbours in Northern Ireland and London to track a way forward in the mutual interest of all of our people," Mr Dodds said.

Mr Coveney's remarks came as Tory leadership front-runner Boris Johnson is expected to be named the UK's next Prime Minister this week.

Current Prime Minister Theresa May will tender her resignation to the Queen on Wednesday.

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