EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier has rejected claims that a change in government in Ireland would be a concern to the Brexit process.
Asked about the forthcoming Irish General Election, Mr Barnier insisted a change in government would not have an impact on his working relationship with Ireland.
“Obviously I have been informed of the next election in this country.
“Frankly speaking, as an EU negotiator I always worked with each and every other 27 EU member state with elected governments,” he said.
“I will continue to work with the government chosen by the citizens.”
Standing alongside Taoiseach Leo Varadkar at Government Buildings in Dublin, Mr Barnier was asked what advice he would give to any leader who is struggling to get re-elected.
Mr Barnier said: “Always walking in the middle of the road.”
Real pleasure to welcome @MichelBarnier back to Dublin today. Always a great friend of Ireland. This is the start of #Brexit week and weâll be discussing the next crucial phase of the negotiations @HMcEntee pic.twitter.com/OO0p1CCHj4— Leo Varadkar (@LeoVaradkar) January 27, 2020
The latest poll shows that Fianna Fail remains in the lead to be the majority partner in the next government.
The Red C poll, paid for by the Business Post newspaper, shows Micheal Martin’s party on 26% (up two), while Fine Gael has gone down seven points to 23% and Sinn Fein up by eight to 19%.
The Greens are polling at 8%, up one, Labour are on 4% and Solidarity-People Before Profit on 2%.
The poll also shows that Independent candidates are feeling the pressure due to Sinn Fein’s popularity. Their support is down by two points to 14%.
The Fine Gael leader commented on Monday that while he said he would not offer a “running commentary” on polls, he pointed out that he is ahead when measured against other party leaders.
We will have to generate revenues of billions of euros over the next couple of years, and that's only possible if we keep the economy strong and to do that we have to have a good trade deal post-BrexitLeo Varadkar
“If you look at the polls, for what it’s worth, in the Ipsos (MRBI opinion) poll, when the party leaders are measured against each other, the polls put me slightly ahead of the other party leaders,” he added.
“In the Red C poll at the weekend it showed that the public trusted my party with Brexit ahead of all other parties by quite a distance.
“But one thing I do know is that there’s been a huge focus in this election on really important issues like health and housing and childcare, and reducing people’s taxes and making sure that more money is in their pockets.
“All of that costs money. It’s going to cost a lot of money to deliver those projects.
“We will have to generate revenues of billions of euros over the next couple of years, and that’s only possible if we keep the economy strong and to do that we have to have a good trade deal post-Brexit.
“The issues that dominate this election are actually very much interlinked, because only a strong economy and only a favourable Brexit for Ireland will allow us to do all of the things in health care, housing, childcare, that we all know are necessary.”