Ireland’s Foreign Minister hit back at Britain’s new Prime Minister Boris Johnson over his approach to Brexit, saying he was "very unhelpful" and appeared set on a collision course with the European Union (EU) that would preclude an orderly exit with a deal.
On entering Downing Street on Wednesday, Johnson threatened that if the EU refused to renegotiate the withdrawal agreement, the UK would have to leave without a deal in place on October 31st. A step which could result in global and economic shock waves.
The biting criticism from Ireland, just two days after Johnson took office also indicates the discontent caused by the different Brexit approach chosen by Britain's new government.
In his first parliamentary session since taking office, Johnson delivered a pitch to the EU on Thursday, bluntly stating that the controversial Irish border backstop would have to go if the bloc wanted a deal.
Ireland's second most powerful politician, Foreign Minister Simon Coveney, said Johnson's comments were "very unhelpful" and warned that the new British leader was not going to get a deal with such an approach.
"He seems to have made a deliberate decision to set Britain on a collision course with the EU and with Ireland in relation to the Brexit negotiations," Coveney told reporters in Belfast after meeting Julian Smith, Britain's Northern Ireland Minister.
The day before, on Thursday, the Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said that he was confident that an agreement could still be reached to avoid the UK leaving the EU without a deal.
“I think, notwithstanding the fact there is a new prime minister and there is a new government in Westminster, I am still confident that a ‘no-deal’ can be avoided,” Varadkar told journalists after the final Irish cabinet meeting before the summer recess, according to Reuters.
That optimism was not echoed by his foreign minister today. "The approach that the British prime minister seems now to be taking is not going to be the basis of an agreement, and that's worrying for everybody," Coveney said.