Sunday, 19 Jan 2020

Brexit LIVE: Varadkar’s deputy sparks outrage for ‘threatening violence’ over no deal

Simon Coveney said if Boris Johnson pulled the UK out of the EU without a withdrawal deal it would pose a risk to the 1998 Good Friday Agreement. The country’s second most powerful politician told BBC Radio: “Trade across 300 road crossings that has created a normality and a peace that is settled on the island of Ireland for the last 20 years, that now faces significant disruption. That is what we’re fighting for here.

“Ireland is in no doubt as to what a no deal means for us. It is very damaging, very difficult and it poses huge questions for politics and potentially for the management of civic unrest in the context of Northern Ireland, around the border question.”

But North Antrim MP Ian Paisley rebuked Leo Varadkar’s deputy and accused him of using a “threat” of violence to forward his anti-Brexit position.

The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) MP said: “It’s disgusting anyone would want to seek to threaten violence because of Brexit.

“Perhaps Mr Coveney should take a vow of silence.”

Thousands of people were killed in Northern Ireland during the period known as the Troubles, between 1968 and 1998, the majority of which were civilians.

Speaking days after Mr Johnson held talks with European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker in Luxembourg, Mr Coveney said the two sides were no closer to striking a deal than before.

However the prime minister has said “progress” has been made on the Brexit front while Mr Juncker said he believes a deal can be done.

Mr Coveny said: “There are serious problems that arise because of the change in approach by the British Prime Minister – asking to remove a very significant section within the Withdrawal Agreement without any serious proposals as to how you solve those problems is not going to be the basis for an agreement.

“That’s why I think there is an onus on the British Government to come forward with alternative arrangements – if they have them – which can resolve the Irish border question.”

See below for live updates.

9.14am update: Tom Watson says his support for second Brexit referendum behind plot to oust him

The deputy leader of Britain’s main opposition Labour Party said on Saturday that his stance on Brexit, where he backs a second referendum before a parliamentary election, unlike leader Jeremy Corbyn, is behind efforts by some in the party to remove him.

At a meeting of Labour’s National Executive Committee on Friday, Jon Lansman, the founder of the left-wing grassroots movement Momentum, proposed a motion to abolish the post of deputy leader, citing disloyalty over Brexit, according to two party officials.

The chair ruled that the motion should be thrown out and members then voted 17 to 10 to overturn that decision, just short of the two-thirds majority they needed, the officials said.

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