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Ireland’s Foreign Minister Says There’ll Be No EU Deal If The UK Doesn't Back Down On The Internal Market Bill

Simon Coveney is foreign minister for the Republic of Ireland (Sky News)

4 min read

Ireland’s foreign minister has warned that a deal with the EU “won’t be ratified” if the UK brings back parts of the Internal Market Bill removed by the House of Lords.

Speaking to Sky News, Simon Coveney also repeated warnings that a UK-EU deal could collapse over fishing rights, adding that the UK needed to make “big progress this week”.

But cabinet minister George Eustice dismissed these concerns, insisting that a new agreement would “supersede” the Internal Market Bill, and that the UK’s asks on fishing rights were in line with “international norms”. 

Mr Coveney said: “If the British government is determined to continue with their Internal Market Bill, to reintroduce parts of that bill that were removed by the House of Lords this week, then I think this is a deal that won't be ratified by the EU,

“Because there's no way the EU will agree to ratify a new agreement if the British government is breaking the existing agreement that's not even 12 months old and breaking international law by doing that. 

“So there are real obstacles here to getting this deal done. But having said that, the cost for everybody of not getting a deal done I hope would be enough to ensure that both negotiating teams find a way of getting a compromise that they can both live with.”

And, asked if hopes of a deal could collapse over fishing rights, Mr Convey continued: “It could, it could, I certainly hope that won’t be the case. 

“It will be extraordinary if it does, but I think that is possible. If the UK side takes an approach of, let's get everything else agreed, and then let's say to the EU shortly, we're not going to allow this to collapse on fishing. So give us what we want on fishing. That is a negotiating tactic that won't work.”

Talks between the UK and the EU will move to Brussels this week following a week of intense discussions in London. 

Writing on Twitter, the UK's chief negotiation David Frost said the two sides had met "almost every day since 22 October".

"We are working to get a deal, but the only one that's possible is one that is compatible with our sovereignty and takes back control of our laws, our trade, and our waters," he said. 

"That has been our consistent position from the start and I will not be changing it."

"There has been some progress in a positive direction in recent days. We also now largely have common draft treaty texts, though significant elements are of course not yet agreed. We will work to build on these and get an overall agreement if we can."

Speaking earlier on Sunday with Sky News, environment secretary George Eustice agreed that "this needs to be a week when things move".

He defended the government’s commitment to reintroduce the aspects of the Internal Market Bill which were removed by the House of Lords this week in a damaging defeat for the government. 

“We will be putting those measures back because they are very important, they just bring clarity to mechanisms that are already in the withdrawal agreement,” he said. 

“There's already an article 16 that enables us to act unilaterally when we need to in order to protect the economy of Northern Ireland. And in addition, as well as a commitment to good faith which obviously we need the ability to implement.”

And, on the UK’s stance on fishing rights, Mr Eustice added:  “It's very important to coastal communities up and down the country, and it is the case that British fishing was damaged by our entry into the European Union and the common fisheries policy has been a disaster.”

“And there is an important point here. Would it be right for the UK, the fifth largest economy in the world to be the only country in the world that doesn't control its own waters? 

“I think that would be wrong. There's an important principle here as well, which is the rights and the ability to manage and control access to your exclusive economic zone is what every other country in the world has and is an international legal norm.”

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