Irexit: Expert says ‘leaving on WTO terms isn’t option for Ireland’
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Professor Anthony Coughlan, retired Senior Lecturer Emeritus in Social Policy at Trinity College, Dublin, said Mr Sunak was also backed as he was seen as the man who was responsible for the downfall of Boris Johnson whom he said was “absolutely hated” in Dublin. Ms Truss is currently the bookmakers’ favourite to replace the outgoing Mr Johnson, who is carrying on in a caretaker capacity until the roughly 200,000 Conservative Party members have made their decision, with the result due on September 5.
However, Mr Coughlan said if the MP for South-West Norfolk succeeds in her quest, it will be a crushing blow to Taoiseach Micheal Martin, his predecessor Leo Varadkar, and the rest of the country’s political establishment.
The academic, a staunch backer of Ireland following the UK out of the bloc with a so-called Irexit, said there was “no doubt” that the “predominant political opinion” in his homeland “would prefer Rishi Sunak as the new UK Prime Minister”.
He explained: “This comes through in regular commentary on the contest in all the main Irish papers.
Boris Johnson is absolutely hated here for his role in achieving Brexit
“The most obvious reason is that most of the committed Brexiteer MPs – whom our local establishment hate – are backing Liz Truss, even though she voted Remain.
“Sunak is regarded as a ‘traditional Treasury man’, a safe pair of hands who is unlikely to adopt any of the radical measures that are required to take advantage of the opportunities of Brexit and deal with Britain’s economic problems – even though he voted Leave.”
Mr Coughlan added: “Also Sunak is seen as the person most responsible for bringing down Boris Johnson, who is absolutely hated here for his role in achieving Brexit and bringing about the Conservative 80-seat majority in 2019.
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“Whereas Truss did not plot against Johnson and has continued serving in government.
“Sunak is also seen as the person likely be most emollient and compliant vis-a-vis the EU as regards re-negotiating the Northern Ireland Protocol.
“The europhile Irish Establishment is happy with the sea-border aspect of that and wants minimum changes made in it.
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“Truss is seen as the person most likely to stand up to EU bullying and pressure.”
As Foreign Secretary, Ms Truss is the driving force behind new legislation she claims will fix the problems which parts of the Northern Ireland Protocol have created and help uphold the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement.
Speaking in February on the day prior to the Bill’s second reading, she said: “Our overriding priority is protecting the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement, the bedrock of peace and stability in Northern Ireland – as it stands the Protocol is undermining this delicate balance.
“This legislation will fix the problems the Protocol has created, ensuring that goods can flow freely within the UK, while avoiding a hard border and safeguarding the EU Single Market.
“A negotiated solution has been and remains our preference, but the EU continues to rule out changing the Protocol itself – even though it is patently causing serious problems in Northern Ireland – which therefore means we are obliged to act.”
Since launching her campaign, Ms Truss has also vowed to take a combative approach, pledging to “bulldoze” through “endless government bureaucracy” as PM and vowing not “take no for an answer”.
Asked last month about how she would confront the Treasury, which she has labelled as resistant to change, the Tory leadership hopeful told reporters in Peterborough: “What I would do and I’ve done this as Foreign Secretary, I’ve done this as trade secretary, is I’ve bulldozed through the blockages.
“I get stuff done, whether it’s the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill, whether it’s the dozens of trade deals, whether it’s the sanctions regime on Russia – we’ve now got the toughest sanctions – because I don’t take no for an answer and I go in and I fight for what is right, I hear what people say.”
She said that “endless government bureaucracy” is a “waste of taxpayers’ money” and “causing real pain to people in very, very difficult circumstances”.
Ms Truss added: “I’m the person who is prepared to be bold, to take on the status quo and say let’s do things differently.”
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