Boris Johnson’s move to override parts of Brexit deal has ‘eroded’ trust, says Irish PM

“Trust has been eroded” and “tensions have been created” as result of Boris Johnson’s move to override parts of his Brexit deal with the EU, Ireland’s prime minister has told Sky News.

Micheal Martin told Ireland correspondent Stephen Murphy that he had registered Dublin’s “deep disappointment” with the UK prime minister’s approach, as well as its “outright opposition”, in a phone call earlier.

“It was unilateral, that’s no way to approach difficult and complex negotiations of this kind,” he said.

Mr Martin added: “In Europe there’s a lot of anger towards this and the manner in which this happened.

“In Ireland there clearly is, I articulated that.”

The controversial Internal Market Bill was published after the government admitted it wanted to potentially “break international law”.

It is intended to distribute powers being brought back from Brussels to Westminster and the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis told the Commons earlier this week that proposed legislation related to Brexit “does break international law in a very specific and limited way.”

But key components may contradict the Withdrawal Agreement passed by parliament last year, by letting ministers hand themselves the power to determine rules on state aid and goods travelling between Northern Ireland and Great Britain.

Mr Martin said the comments from Mr Lewis had left politicians in Dublin “aghast”.

“I had never quite seen that before in a parliament, where a member of a government quite openly said this is breaking an international law,” he added.

Considering the bigger picture, as UK and EU negotiators try to strike a free trade deal before the end of the transition period in December, Mr Martin said there is a “short window” in which to strike an agreement.

Analysis: Irish PM strikes pessimistic note amid diplomatic fallout over plans to override Brexit deal
By Stephen Murphy, Ireland correspondent

The Taoiseach’s comments to Sky News this evening highlight the diplomatic fallout from Brandon Lewis remarks yesterday in the House of Commons and the publication of the new bill today.

The Taoiseach spoke to Sky News just moments after he got off the phone with his British counterpart. Clearly, it was a fraught and difficult phone call that took place. It was described by the Taoiseach as forthright, which is well-known diplomatic code for difficult conversations that need to be hard.

He said that the Brandon Lewis statement had left people in the Irish parliament in Dublin “aghast”, he said, it had been done unilaterally without consultation. It had eroded trust and created tensions around the talks. He also spoke of there being “a lot of anger” in Europe over this.

On the topic of the future talks to find a trade deal in the next month or so, the Taoiseach said that he was not optimistic about a deal being done.

He struck a pessimistic note, although he didn’t rule out the issues being resolved in the form of the emergency joint committee meeting. But he spoke tonight of his deep disappointment at the British move and said he couldn’t fathom its rationale.

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