Published On: Fri, May 8th, 2020

Ireland DEMANDS Brexit delay ‘Deal is virtually impossible’ | World | News

told an online conference today: “Given the complexity of what we’re trying to deal with here and the added complications, and there are many, as a result , it surely makes sense for us to seek a bit more time. “I think anybody looking at this from the outside could only conclude it makes sense to look for more time but I wouldn’t be raising expectations to the British Government agreeing to seek .

“COVID-19 has made what is already a very, very difficult timeline to get agreement virtually impossible.”

Mr Coveney’s words follow remarks by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar last month, when he suggested there was a “growing possibility” of the deadline being reached without any free trade deal being agreed.

Any decision by Mr Johnson to extend the deadline beyond December 31 – the deadline as set down in law – would prove highly contentious.

Speaking to last month, Mark Littlewood, director-general of the Institute for Economic Affairs, told he was optimistic a deal would be struck, irrespective of the doubts voiced by Brussels and Dublin.

He said: “The first reason is attention is elsewhere and the world economy has taken an enormous hit.

“So anyone playing silly fools about some sort of technical piece of regulation that they want to argue about or lobby about and gum up the whole system is going to be severely testing the patience of the EU nation-states as well as the Brits.

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“If times were rosy at the moment and the economy was booming, then one particular sector sort of frowning and saying ‘we can’t possibly put up with any difference in regulations on this or that’ would perhaps get a reasonable hearing and clog up the system.

“But I think the political forces both at the nation-state level of the 27 and of the UK are going to have very little patience with anyone who is arguing on a relatively trivial point of detail that would potentially redirect it.

“So I think that because of the backdrop of the coronavirus, the pressure is on getting this done rather than stringing this out because there is a complaint here or this industry there or that country somewhere else has got a particular problem with this element of the deal, I think will fall largely on deaf ears on both sides of the English Channel.

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“It would be considered unbelievably reckless.”

The UK Government needed to remain steadfast, Mr Littlewood warned.

He explained: “If the British Government started to flake on this and say ‘maybe we should stay in for another two years, we’ve got enough on our plates’, I think the EU would probably pounce on that and warmly embrace it.

“But if the British Government was firmly of the view that we really are sticking to the final date of exit at the end of the year, then that would focus minds.

“I think it’s important that the British Government remains adamant on the point because wherever there is a prospect of delay, it will be seized upon by those who don’t actually want Brexit to happen.

“To be honest I don’t think it is going to be any easier next year – I think it would be harder if we actually delay it.”

Speaking during this afternoon’s coronavirus briefing, Environment Secretary George Eustice insisted there would be no delay, regardless of the ongoing pandemic.

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