The British Labour Party has announced it wants a soft Brexit that will allow for continued UK membership of the EU single market and customs union during a transition period from March 2019 onwards.
Fianna Fáil Leader Micheál Martin TD has welcomed the decision taken by Jeremy Corbyn to commit Labour to a soft Brexit stance.
“The decision taken by the Labour Party is a positive development. It is a sensible decision and one, which my colleagues and I welcome," Martin tells Hot Press.
The leader of the Opposition says that there is now an “onus on all Government’s across Europe” to prevent a hard Brexit from occurring and to “look at all options that would ensure” Britain’s continued membership of the customs union during an extended transitional period.
“Keeping Britain in the single market and customs union is essential for Ireland,” Deputy Martin continues. “The Government must do everything it can to help make this a reality.
“A hard Brexit would be disastrous for Ireland and would cause serious damage to our strong relationship with Britain.
“It is also in Ireland’s interest to see the UK and Northern Ireland remain in the customs union in order to prevent the imposition of border controls on the island of Ireland.
“The Government needs to ensure that Ireland’s voice is heard at the negotiation table and that the real dangers of a hard Brexit are set out in no uncertain terms.”
He concludes:“The decision taken by the Labour Party to shift its policy position shows us that a hard Brexit is far from inevitable.
“Now is the time for the Irish Government to step up its effort to convince the British Government of the enormous benefits of continued membership of the single market and customs union,” concluded Deputy Martin.
Meanwhile, Fine Gael Senator and spokesman on EU affairs, Neale Richmond has said sensible solutions - as outlined by MP Keir Starmar - can lessen the impact of Brexit.
"Ultimately the ideal solution would be the UK abandoning Brexit and remaining in the EU but in the absence of that we must take every opportunity to minimise the damage that Brexit will cause,” Senator Richmond said last night.
"The announcement by Keir Starmer that the British Labour Party will seek for the UK to remain in both the Single Market and Customs Union is a very welcome shift in his party's Brexit policy.
"This announcement is the type of imaginative solution referenced by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in his recent speech at Queen's University and it would be a very welcome outcome for Ireland.
"If the UK where to remain in both the single market and customs union much of the problems highlighted relating to the return of a border in Ireland or impact on the export industry would be removed.
"The suggestion of a timely transition period is also eminently sensible, avoiding the so called 'cliff edge', giving all those that will be impacted the time to prepare and adjust for Brexit.
"I am hopeful that Mr Starmer's proposals will be looked at seriously and positively by other UK parties, particularly the more reasonable elements of the Conservative Party,” Senator Richmond said.
"Serious scrutiny needs to be put on the UK Government by their opposition and by the EU through the negotiations to ensure the damage of Brexit is minimised as much as possible.
"I look forward to working with Lords and MPs from all parties and none on an inter parliamentary level to help this process,” Senator Richmond concluded.
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