Ireland’s foreign minister has reassured the UK that Ireland won’t stand in the way of the European Union accepting a 21-month delay to Brexit.
Simon Coveney said the focus at this late stage was to provide reassurance to the UK and resolve outstanding issues.
“We have said consistently that if there’s a request for more time and a plan to go with that in order to try to deal with the outstanding issues Ireland certainly wouldn’t be standing in the way,” he told Reuters after a speech at the UN Human Rights Council.
“But really, I think the focus should be on trying to resolve the outstanding issues at this stage rather than extending Article 50.”
Coveney said Ireland could be flexible on British worries over the border and the Irish backstop, an insurance policy to ensure no hard border returns to the island of Ireland.
“The way to do this is to change the wording of the future relationship declaration [in a way] that can help to provide more clarity and reassurance to Westminster.”
Coveney urged the UK to not compromise on “something as fundamental” as the Good Friday Peace Process for the sake of the UK’s Brexit deal.
According to reports in the British media, UK Prime Minister Theresa May and EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker had constructive talks on Monday and agreed to reach additional agreements on the Brexit divorce deal by 21 March.
May is under pressure from European leaders to avoid a no deal Brexit.
Dutch leader Mark Rutte warned the UK is “sleepwalking into a no deal scenario”.
“It’s unacceptable and your best friends have to warn you. Wake up. This is real. Come to a conclusion and close the deal.”