John Bruton says Ireland needs to try to stop Brexit happening

Posted By: August 04, 2017

Former Taoiseach Bruton says British need to “lay their cards on the table.”

Vivienne Clarke. Irish Times. Dublin. Thursday, August 3, 2017

Former Taoiseach John Bruton has hit out at both the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and the British government over their handling of Brexit and has said Ireland must try to stop Brexit happening altogether.

Mr. Bruton said the DUP needs to decide what sort of Brexit it wants says and that they “have a responsibility to answer questions. So far they have just talked in platitudes.” On the British, Mr. Bruton said: “They are still having debates they should have had three years ago.”

Tensions arose between Northern Ireland’s leading party and Dublin last week after Taoiseach Leo Varadkar expressed frustration over Brexit plans and indicated that Dublin would not come up with solutions to a problem created by the UK. “What we’re not going to do is to design a border for the Brexiteers because they’re the ones who want a border. It’s up to them to say what it is, say how it would work and first of all convince their own people, their own voters that this is actually a good idea,” Mr. Varadkar told reporters last Friday.

DUP leader Arlene Foster described the comments as “not helpful”, saying the Government in Dublin “should reflect on whether they are being helpful to the process here in Northern Ireland or not. They have made various interventions recently in relation to Northern Ireland politics. It would be better if we focused on finding solutions to what is in front of us. We want to find ways forward.”

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, John Bruton said that the British need to “lay their cards on the table” regarding tariffs, trade relations, and agriculture.

Mr. Bruton, who is also a former European Union ambassador to the United States, said Brexit can happen and the UK can stay in trade agreements within Europe.

“We have to do everything we can to stop it (Brexit) happening if we can”, he added.

“Really, it is the English. They have to change their opinion. They have initiated Brexit. The opinion in Northern Ireland was against Brexit, and the opinion in Scotland was against Brexit. That has been overruled.

“Some hard questions have to be asked. What sort of Brexit do they (DUP) want? Do they want the UK in the customs union? What sort of agricultural policy do they want, because that will be very important at the border.”

Mr. Bruton said he was concerned that there would be no nationalists in Westminster when Brexit legislation is discussed in November. The Irish case needs to be put forward, but there would be no nationalists to put forward amendments for “less deep borders.”

“This is border deepening legislation. Brexit was Britain’s idea, but they have not yet come up with any ideas, he said. “What do they want? There have been no answers from them or the DUP. What kind of agriculture policy will they have?”

Mr. Bruton said that the UK has not come up with any plans. “They are still having debates they should have had three years ago.”

On the Taoiseach’s visit to Belfast on Friday, Mr. Bruton advised Mr. Varadkar to be respectful of the fact that there are two sets of people living in Northern Ireland – those with Irish allegiances and those with British allegiances.

“Both sets are Irish and have to be treated with respect.”