THE Brexit plan touted by former Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson has been branded “nothing more than ignorant and irrelevant” by Fine Gael spokesman on European Affairs and Chair of the Seanad Brexit Committee, Neale Richmond.
“In his latest offering, the Rt Hon Mr Johnson has reduced the most complex of negotiation matters to simplistic terms that do not reflect the clear and present issues at play,” Senator Richmond said today (Saturday).
“It is galling to see a man who sat at the British Cabinet table for two years, holding one of the great offices of state, try to dismiss and belittle rock solid commitments that the Government, which he was a member of, not only endorsed but acknowledged were of crucial importance.
“Put simply, a Canada plus trade deal is very much a regressive development compared to the current benefits of the Single Market that the UK and the remaining EU Member States enjoy.
“I am a strong believer in the trade agreement between the EU and Canada but that was the organic creation of something new, bringing the world’s largest economic bloc closer to a huge economic power and improving trading relations. For the EU and the UK to enter such an agreement would be a massive step backwards and would ignore the key issue that the EU is so much more than a simplistic trade agreement.
“Trade alone does not square the circle. Trade deals do not cover aviation policy, workers’ rights, environmental standards and so much more that European cooperation delivers for the ordinary citizen.
“A trade deal, no matter what model, and no matter what pluses one adds, does not guarantee the responsibilities of an international peace deal such as the Good Friday Agreement which is lodged with the United Nations and which the British and Irish Governments are co-guarantors thereof.
“In his latest offering, Mr Johnson refers to relations between the EU and the UK; citing the simplicity of maintaining the status quo. He does this failing to state the obvious that these are not third party dealings. The UK is still in the EU, it does not have relations with the EU, for now it is the EU. This changes once Brexit comes into force, is that not obvious?
“For some reason, Mr Johnson goes onto claim, wrongly, that the EU and Ireland somehow changed its approach in 2017.
“Firstly, Ireland is the EU; secondly, the EU negotiating side, of which Ireland is part of, has been wholly consistent since before the referendum that there cannot be a return to a physical border on the island of Ireland and there are no working examples of technical or facilitated solutions – something verified by the House of Commons Northern Ireland Committee, the House of Lords EU Committee, the European Parliament Constitution Committee and my own Seanad Brexit Committee.
“Mr Johnson had ample opportunities in his time at Cabinet to propose solutions to the many problems that Brexit proposes, yet he offered nothing but his resignation. Since then he has signed up to any half-baked Brexit proposal, be it from the ERG, the IEA or this latest notion from his weekly column.
“Once upon a time, Mr Johnson was a serious player, it is clear now though that he and his ideas are nothing more than ignorant and irrelevant and coaxed in a worryingly irrelevant mind-set,” Senator Richmond said.