Brussels will not be rushed into reaching a Brexit deal just because the UK has outlawed the extension of talks, Ireland’s deputy prime minister has warned.
Simon Coveney said the EU feels the end of 2020 deadline set by Boris Johnson is “ambitious, if not unrealistic”.
The foreign minister believes it will take longer than 12 months to hammer out an agreement on the future post-Brexit relationship, pointing out it is more wide-ranging than trade alone, taking in other areas such as aviation, fishing and data.
The UK has opted to leave the EU and the “collective shelter” it offers, he said – adding that there is “no way” the UK can maintain existing ties.
His comments came as Irish leader Leo Varadkar revealed he had made a decision on the date of his country’s general election, but outstanding business means he cannot yet announce it.
There is mounting speculation Ireland will go to the polls in February.
Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, Mr Coveney said: “I know that Prime Minister Johnson has set a very ambitious timetable to get this done.
“He has even put it into British law, but just because a British parliament decides that British laws say something, doesn’t mean that that law applies to the other 27 countries of the European Union.
“The European Union will approach this on the basis of getting the best deal possible – a fair and balanced deal to ensure the EU and the UK can interact as friends in the future.
“But the EU will not be rushed on this just because Britain passes law.”
Mr Coveney also warned it would not be possible to keep the status quo.
“Maybe the penny is finally dropping that when you leave a union that you have been a part of for 45 years that things don’t remain the same and that is inconvenient and it has consequences for the UK,” he said.
“The UK has decided to move in a different direction, no longer as part of the European Union and the collective shelter of that and opportunity that comes with that.
“That is why, from an Irish perspective, we want in all of these areas, whether it is financial services, whether it is agri-food, whether it’s fishing, whether it’s security, whether it’s preventing the new trade relationship resulting in barriers to trade through quotas or tariffs, we want the closest possible relations we can have.
“[There’s] no way of the UK in this negotiation maintaining the relationship we have today while outside of the European Union, and that’s the reality of Brexit I’m afraid.”
Former international trade secretary Dr Liam Fox said on Sky News that doing a deal with the EU before the end of the year was “achievable”, although it would not involve “frictionless” access to the EU market.
Dr Fox told Sophy Ridge On Sunday: “It’s achievable. The questions are not going to lie around issues of tariffs or quotas which you would normally get in a trade negotiation, that’s normally what takes up a lot of time.
“It will really be around the regulatory issues. It will be about access to the single market.
“What’s clear is that we will be outside the single market therefore you can’t have what is called frictionless trade. There will be some friction in that.”
Brussels will not be rushed into reaching a Brexit deal just because the UK has outlawed the extension of talks, Ireland’s deputy prime minister has warned. Simon Coveney said the EU feels the end of 2020 deadline set by Boris Johnson is “ambitious, if not unrealistic”.