Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

19.14 7 Sep 2020


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Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern doesn't believe there will be a hard Brexit, despite increasing tensions ahead of talks resuming tomorrow.

Mr Ahern said there's "too much to lose for everybody" if there's no deal agreed between the EU and UK.

There's been widespread concern about potential changes to key elements of the Withdrawal Agreement by the British Government.

The Financial Times reported that Downing Street is drawing up new legislation that will override key parts of the agreement – including the Northern Ireland protocol.

The Irish government insists the UK must honour its international commitments, with Tánaiste Leo Varadkar today saying there's often 'saber-rattling' or 'posturing' during high-stake negotiations.

Reacting to the latest developments, Bertie Ahern told The Hard Shoulder we won't have to wait long to see what the British government has planned - as they're due to publish the legislation in question on Wednesday.

Hard Brexit is unlikely as 'everybody has too much to lose' - Ahern

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He noted that state aid, governance and fisheries are all key issues on the negotiation table for the EU's Michel Barnier and UK's David Frost over the coming weeks.

He explained: "Barnier in my view really needs to draw out the British position on state aid and fisheries.

"I think the British would like to come down to the final day in negotiations... and they haven't given anything. They'd say 'we'll give you concessions on fisheries, providing you give us concessions on state aid'. I think Barnier's too clever to fall into that trap.

"I think they're trying to get into a corner, where it's a one-all draw. I don't think Barnier will play that game."

Despite the continuing uncertainty, Mr Ahern believes a deal will be reached.

He observed: "I still don't think there'll be a hard Brexit - I think there's too much to lose for everybody. I think we'll have a huge amount of puffing over the next five or six weeks.

"The hard Brexiteers in the Tory party would all love that - they don't really care about the consequences... the problem is the core support Boris has are all crazy Brexiteers."

Main image: European Union chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier (R) and the UK chief Brexit negotiator David Frost. Picture by: Dati Bendo/DPA/PA Images

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