Opinion

Why no Brexit plaudits for Enda?

In all the euphoria of the last few days, it seems to have been overlooked that it was former Taoiseach Enda Kenny who laid the foundation for the Brexit deal struck in Brussels. How careless of Fine Gael to hardly mention its erstwhile leader in dispatches!

Let’s not forget that it was Enda Kenny who fought tooth and nail to ensure that Ireland’s Brexit priorities would be embedded in the fundamentals of the case made by the EU27 to the UK.

And, in fairness to both the European Commission and the EU Council, ‘sheas siad an fod’ when the going really got tough.

And it looks like they will stand, once again, in Ireland’s corner as Phase 2 of the Brexit negotiation moves towards its conclusion.

All of this is good news. But of even more significance is the potential for Ireland’s agri food sectors to secure the best of all worlds as the Brexit trade talks get underway.

Given the backstop agreement that will ensure the erection of no borders, north/south on the island of Ireland or east/west between the North and Britain, it seems logical to conclude that regulatory conformity across the UK and Ireland will be the least we can expect from the Brexit negotiations.

In other words, if a=b and b=c then it’s obvious to conclude that a=c.

So everyone has the opportunity of being a winner.

The Republic of Ireland needs the EU27 to secure a free trade agreement with the UK over the next 12 months. And – irrespective of how this impacts on other sectors of the economy – the continuation of free trade, where Ireland’s agri food industry is concerned, is absolutely crucial.

The future fortunes of the Irish dairy, beef and sheep sectors are totally dependent on this being the final outcome of the Brexit negotiations.

Any fudge on this issue will have major repercussions for milk producers and livestock farmers the length and breadth of the country.

That said, the body language of all the big players involved in the final Phase 1 Brexit announcement from Brussels was very revealing. The look of relief on all their faces would indicate to me that both the UK and EU27 are now up for a substantial trade deal.

And, if this comes to pass, it will be very good news for the island of Ireland as a whole.

Helping this cause immensely would be the removal of David Davis as the UK’s Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union. His performance in front of a House of Commons’ Brexit Committee in the run-up to the signing of the Brussels’ deal was totally inept.

And following this up with comments on the BBC to the effect that the agreement reached by Theresa May with the EU27 was not legally binding was both uncalled for and, one could argue, downright divisive.

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