DUBLIN / HELSINKI, 30 Aug. (Reuters / EP) –
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is defending a stance on Brexit “not at all reasonable” that the EU cannot facilitate, said Friday the Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney, who has insisted that it is London who has to Find a way out.
“Boris Johnson is posing a very clear and firm stance but that is not at all reasonable and therefore the EU cannot facilitate it and he must know it,” Coveney said in a radio interview.
“The British Government has changed its approach radically so it is they who will have to propose solutions,” he said. “We have always said that if people have alternatives that can do the same function as the 'backstop' (the emergency mechanism for the Northern Ireland border), we are willing to listen to them,” he added.
But, according to Coveney, “every time we have raised that question, the answer is not convincing.” “In fact, sometimes no response is received,” he said.
Speaking to the press upon his arrival at the meeting of EU Foreign Ministers in Helsinki, Coveney has assured that the British Government has not put forward any concrete or credible proposal to replace the 'backstop'.
London said Friday that British and EU negotiators will hold two weekly meetings in September to reformulate the Withdrawal Agreement, which the British Parliament has rejected several times mainly because of its opposition to the emergency measure for the border between Ireland and the Ulster.
“We all want to get an agreement but, at the moment, nothing credible has come from the British Government in terms of alternative to the 'backstop',” Coveney said. “There is no country that wants an agreement more than Ireland,” he said, “but that agreement must be based on the Withdrawal Agreement and must be consistent with that.”
Johnson has said that the 'backstop' has to be suppressed in order to convince Parliament to ratify the agreement and from the EU it has been indicated that they are willing to listen to London's ideas.
“If there are alternatives to the 'backstop' that does the same work, then we will listen to them and if we can reach an agreement on that basis, then so be it,” said the Irish minister, insisting that “it has to be credible” .
“It can not be simply the notion that you have to remove the 'backstop' and we will solve this problem in future negotiations, without any credible way to do it. That will not work,” he warned.
For his part, British Transport Minister Grant Shapps has denied Coveney by being asked about the lack of proposals by the United Kingdom. “It is not true,” he said. “We are considering alternatives,” he said.