Britain's Brexit Secretary leading negotiations for exiting the European Union and reorganizing Northern Ireland’s border regulations has no interest says Brian Cowen.
Britain's Brexit Secretary David Davis, who is leading negotiations for exiting the European Union and reorganizing Northern Ireland’s border regulations, is a hardline right-winger who has never shown interest in Ireland, according to former Taoiseach Brian Cowen.
As business interests prepare for a possible hard border – with the christening of the world’s largest roll-on cargo ship preparing to ferry transport trucks on a direct route between Ireland and Holland and Belgium - Cowen launched a fierce attack on Tory Brexiteers.
His attack coincided with a report that diplomats say the EU has comprehensively rejected British proposals for avoiding a hard border in Northern Ireland either through technological innovation or regulatory alignment.
Now, according to The Irish Times, there is speculation that British Prime Minister Theresa May could consider accepting continued membership of the EU Customs Union – a step that would sharply divide the British Cabinet
Cowen said, “The whole Brexit agenda is being pushed by the right wing of the Tory party for some years now and I’ve never had much faith in their genuine interest in what impacts on Ireland as far as they are concerned.”
He told Sean O’Rourke on RTE Radio that recent remarks by Davis that Sinn Fein was driving a hardened attitude by the Irish government on the border issue showed how little the Tories understood Ireland.
“That’s just another indication of where the right-wing Tory Party is in relation to their knowledge of how Ireland works,” said Cowen.
“Mr. Davis is very right wing, always has been. He’s not a person who has shown much interest in Ireland in the past in my experience, and I was involved for a very long time.”
Cowen described Britain’s stated objective of leaving the EU Customs Union while maintaining a soft border in Ireland as “defying logic.”
He continued, “We will have to await the ingenuity of the Brits to see if they can come up with an answer.”
Irish ministers have rejected the claims by Davis and other leading Tories that Sinn Fein is driving Dublin’s border attitude as “strange,” “inaccurate” and “nonsense.”
On Monday, Davis made a two-hour visit to the border area. He previously said he had never seen the border on the island of Ireland at first hand.
The visit was not announced to the media beforehand. He visited an autism center that is funded by both governments in the Middletown area of Co. Armagh and also visited a food processing company.
He saw a redundant customs post between counties Armagh and Monaghan and was shown how fields, hills, roads and lanes form the porous frontier.
In a tweet Davis said, “Today I started what promises to be a busy week in Northern Ireland. As we leave the EU it’s essential both the U.K. and EU do what it takes to keep the border, which I saw this morning, free from physical infrastructure. We are determined to get this agreed by October.”