Creed: ‘Considerable disappointment in what has happened’

Michael Creed, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, has said that there is “regret and considerable disappointment” among the Government after the Brexit withdrawal agreement was rejected by UK politicians.

The withdrawal agreement, negotiated between the UK and the EU, was soundly defeated in the House of Commons, with 432 votes against, and only 202 in favour.

Speaking on RTE‘s Prime Time last night, January 15, after the vote, Creed said it was “critical for us to keep our nerve”, and didn’t rule out the possibility of UK parliamentarians settling their differences in future talks.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May said that, if she survives a no-confidence vote – scheduled for this evening, January 16 – then her next step would be to hold cross-party talks to try and determine a way forward.

However, Creed insisted that, as far as Ireland and the EU are concerned, the withdrawal agreement that was rejected is “the only show in town”, reiterating continuous claims from the EU that the deal will not be renegotiated.

“It is critically important now that we remain solid in our commitment to the withdrawal agreement, and we await what the British Government will do next,” said the minister.

However, the minister was joined on Prime Time by Fianna Fail TD Lisa Chambers, who argued that: “It is difficult to see how the withdrawal treaty, as it stands, can proceed.

All we can control here in the Republic is how prepared we are, and right now our focus has to be stepping up our preparedness, and that we now ask the EU to put in place a financial support package.

Creed added that if the Government had requested financial assistance to compensate the agri-food sector for a loss of income as a result of Brexit, this would have signalled that “we could have been bought off in terms of the issues that were of critical importance to us”.

He argued that the EU acknowledges that Ireland is in a vulnerable position, which, he said, gives us a “strong foundation to build on”.