Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has said that he does not think Boris Johnson “has a hope in hell” of making the Brexit deadline of October 31.
He also told RTE radio’s Today with Miriam show that Taoiseach Leo Varadkar will have to establish a relationship with the new Prime Minister and should seek an early meeting.
“This goes beyond Brexit, it’s in the interest of the country.”
Mr Ahern described Mr Johnson as “a clever guy” who “knows the game well.”
He will be “coming in with a head of steam” and Mr Ahern said he would be surprised if the new Prime Minister does not try to broaden the agenda of Brexit and revive the Tory party.
Mr Ahern also called on British politicians and commentators to actually read the backtop and the Withdrawal Agreement. “I would love people to read it and understand it. We’re not out to force the UK to stay in Europe.
He pointed out that the backstop was introduced as a safety net to try to stop a hard border. “What do they want? Do they accept the Good Friday Agreement? What is their problem? Is it with the Good Friday Agreement?
“They should read the protocol, the agreement. What more do they want?”
Mr Ahern said that he would rewrite a lot of the protocol in a text “that might convince them.”
He warned that when Mr Johnson “waves his hand and his blond hair and tries to tear up the agreement, he’ll know soon that that’s not possible.”
The arbitration clause is already there and could be binding, he added. “What is it they don’t like about a frictionless border and peace on the island of Ireland?”
He said that if he was a businessperson or a farmer in Northern Ireland he would not be happy. He accepted that the DUP does not want the agreement even though it would be good for business in Northern Ireland.
“We’ve given nearly everything. The Taoiseach shouldn’t give any more.”
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