UK document should be seen as the basis for negotiations, not the solution – Richmond

-   Senator Neale Richmond

Welcoming the release of the latest UK Government position paper on Brexit, Fine Gael Senator and spokesman on EU Affairs, Neale Richmond, has stated that the document is the basis for negotiations and does not yet present the ultimate solution for Ireland.

“Earlier this month, the Taoiseach rightly asked the UK Government to paint a clearer picture of how they want Brexit to look, particularly in terms of its impact on the island of Ireland. In that sense, the publication of this position paper on Brexit with particular reference to Ireland is extremely welcome, if belated.

“However, this document is a position paper, nothing more. It would be foolish to think this will be a clear indication of what a post Brexit vista will look like.

“The commitment to having no physical border posts is particularly welcome but the end goal should be an agreement that sees no border on the island of Ireland at all.

“Ultimately, the document is quite vague, especially with regard to the specific detail of future relations on this island. However it does provide room for manoeuvre when it is thrashed out properly in the negotiations, allowing this detail considered by the Taoiseach and the European Council in October.

“While there are a number of positive points in the document for Ireland such as the proposed transitional period, there are also a number of assertions and asks that are unlikely to come to pass. That said, imaginative solutions and compromise in relation to the discussion of third party or concurrent trade negotiations, such as with Japan, should not be dismissed out of hand.

“The position of Ireland in the wider EU has been made quite clear in these negotiations. There are obvious priorities that need to be addressed: Ireland, citizen’s rights and the cost of exiting the EU. Cooperation and progress on these priorities will allow for clear facilitation of a future trading and customs relationship.

“Of course the preferable option for both Ireland and the UK would be the retention of the status quo. Unfortunately this is no longer an option though personally I think the people of the UK should have the option to vote on an agreed outcome; what we must look for now is the best case possible alternative. It will not be as good a deal as what we have now, no one will ultimately win, but this document provides a welcome basis for negotiations.”

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