‘Hope as long as people continue to talk’ about Brexit trade deal

TAOISEACH Micheál Martin last night said there is “hope as long as people continue to talk” after negotiations on a post-Brexit trade deal were extended.

As a deadline for the talks passed yesterday, British prime minister Boris Johnson and European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen agreed to “go the extra mile”.

Mr Johnson said the UK would not be walking away from the negotiating table but warned the two sides “remain very far apart” and no-deal was still the most likely outcome.

“We’re going to continue to try and we’re going to try with all our hearts and be as creative as we possibly can, but what we can’t do is compromise on that fundamental nature of what Brexit is all about which is us being able to control our laws, control our fisheries, it’s very, very simple.”

Read More: Northern Ireland Protocol will act as ‘parachute’ even if there is no Brexit deal

Taoiseach Micheál Martin welcomed the talks extension, saying it was “imperative” that both sides do everything possible to avoid the transition period ending on December 31 without a deal.

He told RTÉ he does not understate the challenges facing both sets of negotiators but added that with “a will there is a way”.

Foreign affairs minister Simon Coveney also said it was “time to hold our nerve and allow the negotiators to inch progress forward – even at this late stage” as a deal was still possible although “very difficult”.

Meanwhile, the DUP’s Lord Nigel Dodds said trade between Northern Ireland and the EU would continue in a no deal scenario.

“Trade between Northern Ireland to Great Britain will be unfettered, with no extra paperwork,” he added.

“We must ensure that Great Britain to Northern Ireland trade is tariff-free and with the minimum checks.”

However, Ulster Unionist MLA Roy Beggs claimed EU officials will now be sent to Northern Ireland ports to “look over the shoulder of UK officials who are doing the checking at the border control posts”.

“That’s where we have now ended up after the DUP’s support for Boris Johnson’s proposals last year.”

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