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UK's Brexit conviction 'fragile', claims John Bruton

John Bruton said that
John Bruton said that "English nationalism" has been a fundamental problem during the negotiations.

A former Taoiseach has said Brexiteers' refusal to hold a second referendum is a sign that the UK's conviction to leave the EU is "fragile".

Speaking on LBC, John Bruton said that "English nationalism" has been a fundamental problem during the negotiations and urged the government to protect the UK's trade interests with Ireland post-Brexit.

Theresa May has consistently ruled out the possibility of a second referendum on Brexit, however Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has said the option of a public vote is "still on the table" if the Prime Minister's Brexit deal is rejected in the Commons.

"My view is that Britain needs to recognise that in fact it needs its neighbours, it needs its closest neighbours particularly," he said.

"Its trade with Ireland is greater than its trade with China.

"And it needs, in making big decisions like Brexit, not to make these decisions on a whim, not to make these decisions on a narrow majority, without proper preparation, but to make the decision in proper consultation with its closest neighbours and unfortunately that didn't happen in part because of the urgency of English nationalism to make a decision.

"The view of English nationalism that to have a second look at that decision would be a betrayal suggests that the conviction about leaving the EU is a fragile one.

"It suggests they don't trust their own people."

The comments come as Theresa May prepares for further with the EU in a bid to secure changes to her withdrawal agreement, which was heavily defeated in the Commons last month.

Since then, MPs have passed an amendment rejecting a no-deal Brexit, and another calling for the controversial backstop to be replaced with "alternative arrangements".

The EU, however, has said the issue is not up for renegotiation - although changes to the wording of the Political Declaration, which sets out the plans for the future relationship between the UK and the EU, may be possible.

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