Charlie Flanagan doesn't think we need a Brexit Minister

The Minister for Foreign Affairs believes the entire Government needs to be working on the issue...

Charlie Flanagan doesn't think we need a Brexit Minister

Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan in Dublin | File photo:

Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan has said that all of his ministerial colleagues are acting as ministers for Brexit.

Speaking on Newstalk Breakfast, he dismissed calls for there to be a dedicated cabinet member to deal with Britain's exit from the EU.

Flanagan said:

"The only difficulty about having a Brexit minister is that we need to recognise the fact that everybody is, in effect, a Brexit minister. Each and every government department will be affected in some way by the withdrawal of the UK from the European Union. That is why we have a 'whole of Government' response... in the form of a Brexit committee."

He emphasised the importance of Enda Kenny's role, stating that "he is one that would be leading the charge on the part of Ireland" and saying that "there's no question of [Ireland's special case] being ignored, this is precisely what the Taoiseach is doing.

Looking ahead to the "challenging and lengthy and complicated" process of negotiation, Flanagan said it was important to exercise caution and not jump to conclusions about the deal which will ultimately be on offer.

Acknowledging that we had to "mitigate against" tariffs, Flanagan said:

"I don't think we should be unduly alarmed, I don't think we should be saying anything that upsets people...

 "I don't think we can say anything is inevitable... It's far too early to be contemplating things like trade wars."

He took heart from Ireland being "the only country mentioned" by British Prime Minister Theresa May as she set out her Brexit stall yesterday and believes her aims "coincide with our objectives of ultimately having a close and friction-free, as she says, economic and trading relationship between the UK and the European Union".

Flanagan's cautiously optimistic words come as British foreign secretary Boris Johnson claimed that countries are "queuing" up to make trade deals with the UK following May's speech.

He said the UK can start pencilling new trade deals on the "back of an envelope", despite still being an EU member. He was speaking in India, here he told business leaders he wants to cut a fresh agreement with the country and that "the time has come to stick up for free trade".

Writing in the Daily Telegraph yesterday, Johnson said:

"We will no longer be part of the common commercial policy, or bound by the Common External Tariff, and we will no longer have our trade policy run by the EU commission.

"That means - crucially - that we will be able to do new free trade deals with countries around the world.