The British minister for Northern Ireland apologized on Monday (3 October) for the damage caused by the Brexit negotiations to diplomatic relations between Great Britain and Ireland.
Steve Baker, a staunch supporter of Brexit, said he regretted that “relations between the UK and Ireland have been made difficult by the Brexit process“, During an interview with the Irish public media RTE.
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The minister, who took office almost a month ago with the arrival of Liz Truss in Downing Street, also admitted that his tough stance during talks on Britain’s divorce from the EU had “caused enormous anxiety“.”Some of our actions have not been very respectful of the legitimate interests of Ireland“Said Steve Baker in this mea culpa.
“If I have to be a little humble to restore broken relationships, to achieve this, I am happy to be humbleThe minister has already made similar comments at the Conservative Party’s annual conference which began Sunday in Birmingham.
Steve Baker explained that he felt “the ice to thaw a littleduring a meeting with Irish leaders at events organized after Queen Elizabeth II’s death on 8 September. The government of Liz Truss, who succeeded Boris Johnson in early September, sought to set a new tone in addressing the thorny issue of post-Brexit trade rules in Northern Ireland, with both Dublin and Brussels.
As foreign minister in the Johnson government, Ms Truss had promised to rewrite the Northern Ireland Protocol that the British government signed with the EU, which had sent reports to historic lows.
New British Foreign Minister James Cleverly and European Commission Vice-President Maros Sefcovic promised Friday in an exchange to relaunch the protocol negotiations, which have stalled since February.
On Sunday, Irish Prime Minister Michael Martin told RTE there was a “real commitmentto solve this protocol problem. The Northern Irish Protocol, negotiated at the time of Brexit, creates a de facto customs border between the island of Great Britain and the British province, complicating supplies and angering unionists linked to membership in the United Kingdom.
For several months, trade unionists have refused to form a local executive, which should be shared with the now majority Sinn Fein Republicans, if the text is not challenged. Steve Baker, who said his apology didn’t go well with the unionists, urged them to “defusing these tensions“.
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