As Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, I have responsibility for coordinating the whole-of-Government response to Brexit, including developing and setting out Ireland’s approach to the negotiations on the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.
The conclusion of a withdrawal agreement between the EU and the UK is a key priority for the Government. A failure to reach such an agreement, resulting in a disorderly withdrawal, would, as I believe is now almost universally accepted, be hugely damaging for the UK and for the EU, most particularly Ireland.
It is therefore incumbent on all sides to act responsibly and to approach these negotiations in a constructive, positive and ambitious frame of mind, with a willingness to compromise.
My focus is on working with our EU partners and the EU institutions to ensure that the negotiations proceed in a positive manner, with a view to making sufficient progress on the withdrawal issues so that we can move on to discussing in parallel the future EU-UK relationship, including as regards trade. The need for effective transitional arrangements is also now very broadly understood.
That said, the negotiations will be complex and difficult. As a priority my Department and I will continue to work with colleagues across Government to develop solutions that protect our interests to the maximum possible extent under a range of different scenarios. These scenarios include one where no agreement is reached.