Brexit: Thomas Byrne outlines 'fundamental problem'
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Mr Byrne insisted a post-Brexit solution on Northern Ireland must be found within the confines of the existing agreement on the region. Speaking to Radio 4’s Today programme on Wednesday, the Irish Europe Affairs Minister called on the British Government to sign up to an SPS agreement (vet checks on animals and food) that has been offered to them by the European Commission despite Britain turning this down as it would mean signing up to EU rules. He went on to blame Brexit and the British government for causing unnecessary chaos over the fallout out of the Northern Ireland protocol
Mr Byrne was asked about a reported UK proposal for an “honesty box” approach to checks.
He replied: “We’re going to listen carefully to what the British Government have to say.
“We’re willing to discuss any creative solutions within the confines of the protocol.
“But we have to recognise as well that Britain decided itself to leave the single market of the European Union, to apply trade rules, to apply red tape to its goods that are leaving Britain, to goods that are coming into Britain.”
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Mr Byrne went on to pin the blame on Brexit, the British people and the British government for causing the Protocol chaos.
He said: “The fundamental problem is Brexit!
“Brexit is a situation where the people of Great Britain the government of the United Kingdom decided to leave the European Union, to leave the single market.
“And to build up these walls and to cause difficulties whether it’s coming to the island of Ireland or the European continent.”
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But Nick Robinson hit back saying: “It is not Brexit that says if you get the wrong colour ink that a whole truck of good gets turned round and has to be destroyed.
“It is not Brexit that ensures that there need to be three different vets checking on the contents of a sandwich that people in Dublin ate perfectly safely up until a few months ago!”
Mr Byrne continued in his attack: “Well it’s exactly Brexit actually!”
He went on to draw on Margaret Thatcher’s efforts to establish the single market in order to “remove those types of checks” and rules.
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Mr Byrne added: “Britain then decided to leave the single market and unfortunately has created all these problems that we are seeing all around the place.
“We in the Republic of Ireland have to live with them, Northern Ireland has been affected as well and Britain as well – we have seen food exporters to the European continent pretty badly affected by Brexit.”
The BBC host hit back highlighting how the Irish Government are making efforts to ensure flexibility around the protocol, saying: “That doesn’t reflect the truth in reality! You are working quite hard to make these rules more flexible, do you think by upping the temperature in the way that they are in London, they are actually making your life harder when you go to Brussels?”
Mr Byrne insisted: “The European Union, including Ireland, is working together on this, we want to work together with the British government to solve these issues, and I think that is the only way to resolve problems… to work creatively in Northern Ireland to bring all of the communities in Northern Ireland.”
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