07:57 GMT17 February 2020
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    It has been reported that several high ranking Irish politicians and diplomats held talks with at least two of Boris Johnson's cabinet allies in recent days regarding the backstop and the future of Ireland if the UK was to leave the EU without a deal. Journalist and political commentator Andree Murphy expressed his opinion on the situation.

    Sputnik: So first of all, we've heard a lot coming out about the current state of Northern Ireland and how Northern Ireland will be most negatively affected by a potential No Deal Brexit but it doesn't seem to really dissuade either Boris Johnson or Jeremy Hunt from keeping that proposal on the table for no deal. How do you think people in Ireland feel about the risk of a No Deal Brexit?

    Andree Murphy: As soon as Brexit was voted for it became very, very clear: the impact of Brexit, would most detrimentally effects those living on the island of Ireland, and in particular people living in the northern six counties of Ireland. That was immediate and we saw the devastation would be economic almost immediately. I mean, no less than 40,000 jobs on the first day of the potential 'No Deal Brexit' is a common number that's put around in terms of only the north not even the rest of the island.

    And then we also see that the peace agreement itself the arrangements already citizens’ rights, where Irish citizens living on the island of Ireland will be detrimental effected. So there were multi-levels of immediate response to that what we saw was that England voted in favour of Brexit with Wales, and their vote is all that mattered.

    So what we've seen since then, with this, hell-bent Brexit, 'No Deal doesn't matter, We're going to have Brexit no matter what'. The implications for Ireland always coming second, and only the Irish Government with the EU is holding the line in terms of the impact and on Ireland has absolutely convinced everyone that really, English politicians are only interested in England, and we come at very, very last place.

    Sputnik: Now, you mentioned that they're being held in the last place. A lot of the discussion around the current situation seems to hold Ireland as a negotiating chip, the fact that Ireland can be used to bring the EU back to the table. Do you think that's the case?

    Andree Murphy: Well, I think what's happened is that in the negotiations, as far as English politicians thought they would go to Europe and do a negotiation, they haven't understood the implications of their own union. With their own responsibilities in terms of the North of Ireland, whether it's economically whether it's under the Good Friday Agreement or with a wider trade and single market obligations.

    So, you know, it hasn't been used as a bargaining chip and I suppose that's been used against us for the implications are so severe and so dramatic in terms of Ireland, Ireland and EU negotiations, teams helping very, clear that; Yes, we can work through all of these other issues but the Irish issue has to also be resolved. But that remains outstanding doesn't make it a bargaining chip, it remains that as an outstanding issue that they did not consider when they may suppose. Do not consider when they're discussing within their own cabinet and don't even really discuss very much properly even on the benches of Westminster. But it remains the issues that cannot be overcome and circle and square the can't be circled.

    Sputnik: We're close to finding out who the next prime minister of the UK is, be a Boris Johnson or be Jeremy Hunt. Who do you think has the best plan for Ireland?

    Andree Murphy: Neither of them do. It's very clear that neither of them do. You know, they are clearly only interested in the position of the Conservative Party, their own personal positions within the Conservative Party, and how to hold on to Conservative power in Westminster itself. So allowing themselves to be tied to their relationship with the DUP after the last Westminster election. Ignoring their obligations under the Good Friday agreements, ignoring their obligations in terms of ensuring that the executive could be up and running with the rights-based agenda.

    But they ignore all the that in order to have relationship with the DUP in Westminster for their votes to survive, irrespective of what's happening on the island of Ireland or in Europe really speaks to something very important. Boris Johnson, it's most likely going to be Boris Johnson, really doesn't understand doesn't and doesn't care is absolutely self-evident. So what's happening here is that people are making a fair bit. Are having a different conversation. It's not about what's happening in Westminster, the Tory leadership contest, it's about what the future arrangements are going to be constitutionally on this island.

    So you have a new conversation about which is completely reinvigorated only in the past three years 'can we have new constitution arrangements that look like an all-Ireland economy'? that's going to remain in the EU that's going to have shared citizenship rights, that's going to have a new relationship with Britain and that's what has emerged instead. What Boris Johnson and his Tory party due really comes a second place to that conversation.

    The views expressed in this article are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.


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