“At the moment, I’m not optimistic that it will be possible to come to the view in October that we are able to move onto the next phase in talks.”
Those were the comments made by Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar at a Fine Gael conference in Co Tipperary yesterday.
The Irish Government has the power to prevent the talks progressing and it seems that patience is running thin over the progress so far.
Mr Varadkar was adamant that he is not going to allow the status quo to continue unless real progress is being made. “The guidelines that we set out as European heads of government was that we want to see special progress, not just on issues relating to Ireland where there has been quite a lot of progress actually, but also on the financial settlement and citizens rights. As of now, enough progress hasn’t been made for us to go onto the next phase of talks”.
And while he did go on to say that the issue can change and that there is a number of weeks to go, it seems that the Irish government is positioning itself with the intention of becoming a major player in the overall issue. As it stands, Ireland has the most to lose from Britain leaving the EU, but it also has a golden opportunity to negotiate a deal both with the British and the European Union, be that in the form of an open border, greater influence in Northern Ireland or more economic perks.
Simon Coveney, who is the Irish Minister Foreign Affairs, also was in agreement with Mr Varadkar. “I don’t think we are close to being where we need to be in order to move from phase one to phase two,” he said. “That will be a decision between leaders. But unless there is a significant further move from the British government between now and the middle of October, that is unlikely to happen in October,” he said.
It remains to be seen if the Irish government will follow through, but either way, it will be a wake up call for the British negotiating team who are finding themselves increasingly isolated and lacking a clear understanding of the intentions of their neighbours.
But yet again, this is a clear indication that Ireland has nailed its colours to the mast and those colours are blue and yellow.
The current British government have no friends in Dublin.