Large Commons majority will strengthen May’s hand in Brexit talks, says Irish PM

Theresa May will be strengthened in negotiations with the EU if she wins a large Commons majority, the Irish prime minister has said, after a mini summit on Brexit with the leaders of Denmark and the Netherlands.

Asked about the consequence of May’s decision to call a general election, Enda Kenny said he could understand “as a politician” the British prime minister’s motives.

“I do think if, as is expected, the prime minister gets an enhanced majority, it strengthens her position as prime minister in conducting the Brexit negotiations,” he said.

“Assuming the PM is re-elected, and in these days in politics it is very difficult to determine outcomes, from her point of view she wants a clearer mandate; from our point of view, she will be negotiating with 27 countries who will stand together very strongly and very clearly.”

There are mixed feelings in Brussels about May’s decision to hold a general election on 8 June, although some believe a larger majority may make it easier for the prime minister to ignore hardline Brexiters in the Conservative party and make compromises.

Kenny and his Danish counterpart, Lars Løkke Rasmussen, were in the Hague, in the Netherlands, for “informal talks” with the Dutch prime minister, Mark Rutte. Denmark, Ireland and the Netherlands are all heavily dependent on trade with the UK and Brexit took up the lion’s share of their working lunch.

Rasmussen said the three northern states “have many common interests in the issues on the EU’s agenda” but “above all Brexit, which will have consequences for us as well as for Britain. Therefore it makes sense that we should discuss together how we safeguard our interests and get a divorce that is as smooth as possible,” he said.

The Danish prime minister said it was crucial for all EU27 member states to stay united during the negotiations, although he recognised that in some areas, including fisheries, his country, like Ireland and the Netherlands, had a particular interest.

The Irish taoiseach warned that he foresaw fisheries causing “real complications” for the wider negotiations.

The British government has warned that it is seeking fundamental change to the common fisheries policy (CPF), under which EU vessels have access to British waters.

A third of fish caught by the entire EU fishing fleet is from the 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zone over which it is claimed the UK will be able to exert greater control.

Kenny said: “The common fisheries policy is one of the most difficult and complicated agreements that there are and this will cause real complications in the negotiations when they start.

“The CPF is exceptionally complicated and not going to be easy to negotiate. Clearly from a purely British point of view, they will see an advantage of being outside the European Union, but then there are other matters that need to be taken into account here.”

The Guardian revealed this week that the Danish government was building a legal case that its fishermen had a historic right, dating to the 1400s, to fish in British waters.

The Dutch prime minister said none of the leaders could guarantee to their fleets the status quo would continue, but he added: “We can guarantee that we will make sure that is an issue high on the agenda.”

Asked about the future of the three EU agencies located in London, Kenny said they would move. The Department for Exiting the European Union has claimed that the matter will form part of the negotiations.

The author: Michel THEYS

Michel Theys, a Belgian native, began his career as a civil servant, serving the public for several decades. After retirement, he shifted gears to follow his passion for journalism. With a background in public administration, Theys brought a unique perspective to his reporting. His insightful articles, covering a wide array of topics, swiftly gained recognition. Today, Michel Theys is a respected journalist known for his balanced and thoughtful reporting in the Belgian media landscape.

Related posts

Leave a Comment