Brussels not key to getting EU to drop backstop, expert claims – ‘Bribe or blackmail them’

Brexit talks reached an impasse after Parliament rejected demands to accept the withdrawal agreement due to opposition to the backstop terms and Brussels’ refusal to reopen negotiations. But foreign policy expert Alan Mendoza suggested the British Government could remove the obstacle by bypassing the European Union to enter talks with Ireland. Asked whether the withdrawal agreement could be salvaged, Mr Mendoza told BBC Politics Live: “That will very much depend on what the tactics are to go to them.

“One of the best things I’ve seen recently is the idea you don’t go to Brussels but you go instead to Dublin.”

The bloc and Ireland have so far maintained a tight alliance, with Brussels insisting they will not abandon the EU member state to secure a deal with the UK.

Mr Mendoza continued: “You literally do a deal with the Irish, whether you bribe them or threaten them, one way or the other, to get them into a position where they are the ones who drop the opposition to the backstop.

“That enables the Europeans to do so.”

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Earlier this week Dublin released a series of contingency plan as the risk of negotiations ending in a no deal Brexit scenario increase. 

Irish Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe admitted Ireland now see a no deal Brexit as a “significant risk”.

Mr Donohoe said: “From the point of view of the Irish Government, we now believe that the prospect of a disorderly Brexit occurring is now a significant risk.

“And the Irish Government is meeting today now to review our readiness to dealing with this great challenge.”

The contingency measures include plans to introduce new inspection posts to check livestock in order to protect the European Union’s single market, would be positioned on or close to the Northern Irish border if Britain leaves the bloc without an agreement.

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar previously maintained he would do his utmost to protect the EU’s single market if Britain leaves without a deal – a subtle hint at the need to implement border checks.

The document reads: “A no-deal Brexit will be highly disruptive and will have profound political, economic and legal implications, first and foremost for the UK, including most significantly Northern Ireland, as well as having significant impacts on Ireland and the rest of the EU.

“In a no-deal scenario, it will be impossible for the UK to maintain the current seamless arrangements with the EU across the full range of sectors, from justice and security cooperation, to transport connectivity, to trade flows and supply chains.

“A no-deal Brexit will be an unprecedented event, bringing with it disruption and severe negative economic impacts.”


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Irish deputy Prime Minister Simon Coveney accused the Tory leadership frontrunners of having an “utterly disingenuous debate” over Brexit as they battle for the keys to Downing Street.

Dublin has refrained from publicly attacking Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt throughout their leadership campaigns, despite having a growing list of concerns with their attitude towards the controversial Northern Irish backstop.

Mr Coveney, who is also Ireland’s foreign secretary, has dealt personally with the Conservative MPs during their times at the Foreign Office.

But at a private Brexit meeting, he criticised the “utterly disingenuous debate between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt”.

Both men have pledged to scrap the backstop and renegotiate Theresa May’s hated Brexit deal if they become Britain’s next prime minister.

A spokesman for Mr Coveney said the Brexit stakeholders’ forum “is a closed and confidential meeting” and refused to respond to the comments.

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