Irish PM Does Not See Much Room for Brexit Deal Renegotiation

Karen Bradley welcomed the support of business leaders after a meeting on the draft Brexit deal in Belfast

Karen Bradley welcomed the support of business leaders after a meeting on the draft Brexit deal in Belfast

The Irish government has in the past maintained it would not countenance physical infrastructure on the border, which has been effectively open since a 1998 peace deal ended three decades of sectarian violence in Northern Ireland.

Political commentator Noel Whelan said in the event of a no deal, and despite the economic fallout, he thinks the Irish people "will be forgiving" of the taoiseach, who he said "did an incredible job getting what the Irish government wanted into the agreement".

The draft European Union withdrawal agreement is the best option for the Northern Ireland agri-food sector and should be supported, the chairman of the Northern Ireland Food and Drink Association has said.

"It's a very fluid situation, and I think it'll be a very interesting day".

"What we are not doing is putting contingency plans in place that would result in border infrastructure between the two jurisdictions on this island".

Mr Irwin said NIFDA welcomes the draft withdrawal agreement as a positive development in the ongoing Brexit negotiations, and they would be hopeful that this will enable more substantive talks around a future trading relationship with the EU.

The Irish government has repeatedly warned that physical infrastructure at the border would anger nationalists and could become a target for militants opposed to the peace deal.

British Prime Minister Theresa May has defiantly pledged to see her Brexit plan through, despite ministerial resignations and a plan to topple her by disgruntled Conservative lawmakers who believe the backstop arrangements around the border risk the United Kingdom staying in a customs union with the EU indefinitely.

After the meeting, Sinn Fein leader for Northern Ireland Michelle O'Neill said: "We have had a very positive meeting, where we were able to seek some assurances over what has been achieved in the agreement so far".

Their statement was issued several hours after the Ulster Farmers' Union (UFU) claimed a no-deal Brexit would be "absolutely disastrous".

If Britain leaves without a deal next March, "we might find ourselves, after a few weeks of chaos, signing up to an agreement very close to the one we have now", he said.

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