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Mairead McGuinness: Brexit deal 'could go either way' as sides 'remain apart' on key issues

Ireland's EU Commissioner has said it will be very difficult to reach a Brexit deal over the comi...
Marita Moloney
Marita Moloney

10.43 11 Dec 2020


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Mairead McGuinness: Brexit dea...

Mairead McGuinness: Brexit deal 'could go either way' as sides 'remain apart' on key issues

Marita Moloney
Marita Moloney

10.43 11 Dec 2020


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Ireland's EU Commissioner has said it will be very difficult to reach a Brexit deal over the coming days.

Talks are continuing between EU and UK negotiators today in a last-minute attempt to agree on a trade deal.

However, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said this morning that the sides "remain apart on fundamental issues" ahead of Sunday's deadline for a Brexit trade deal.

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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson admitted yesterday that there was a "strong possibility" no agreement would be reached.

The EU has already set out its contingency plans, with Ursula von der Leyen suggesting it may already be too late to ratify a deal in time.

Both sides say they will make a decision about the future of negotiations on Sunday.

However, EU Commissioner Mairead McGuinness is not very optimistic that an agreement can be reached.

She told The Pat Kenny Show that there is a sense from the UK that "everything will work out on the night" in terms of Brexit but that's not what's going to happen.

She said: "Anything can happen, it could go either way at this stage.

"My logical brain suggests there really has to be an agreement, although my political sense is to think it would be really, really difficult to achieve that because of the ramping up of the political narrative from the UK.

"Let's see what happens."

The Commissioner added that "wherever you turn on this, there's an obstacle" to achieving a post-Brexit trade deal.

Mairead McGuinness: Brexit deal 'could go either way' as sides 'remain apart' on key issues

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Negotiators Michel Barnier and David Frost seemingly ran out of road this week, with key differences remaining between the EU and UK on fishing and the level playing field.

Ms McGuinness believes that the mantra of "taking back control" by the UK is hard to understand when so much is at stake.

She said: "The greatest obstacle as I see it is that the British Prime Minister has convinced his party and many in the United Kingdom that being independent and sovereign is worth risking stability and cohesion.

"We come from being independent and sovereign and also part of the EU so in one sense we are stronger because we're part of the EU, the UK takes a totally different view.

"The idea because of this referendum, this mantra of taking back control, that there would be a risk to all those things we take for granted is really hard to understand.

"Which is why, although I'm not entirely hopeful, even though I'm trying to attain an element of hope, that in the next days until Sunday there will be an agreement.

"But the mood music is not good."

'Chaos'

Ms McGuinness added that "chaos" could ensue if the UK leaves the EU without a deal on January 1st.

She said: "If there is no deal then everything we have come to accept as normal ceases to exist and it has to be replaced by something.

"In the absence of this deal, in the absence of replacing what we have now with something, there will be some element of chaos.

"Our last bit of preparation here at an EU level was announced yesterday, very targeted contingency measures to prepare for this no-deal scenario."

Ms McGuinness said that negotiations are ongoing and that we "have to be hopeful that once they're ongoing progress could be potentially be made".

The EU have issued proposals to "avoid chaos" but the UK need to partner with them on the contingency planning.

She said it's "almost like groundhog day" on the problem of fisheries, with the two sides not able to reach an agreement on the issue.

She added there was "no logic" in the UK "trying to police their territorial waters and keep other boats out".

Main image: Mairead McGuinness in the European Parliament | Image via @MaireadMcGMEP on Twitter

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