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Brexit Briefing: Prorogation, Ireland, and Trade

Published: 10 September 2019

Mary C Murphy of University College Cork reflects on the latest Brexit news, including Boris Johnson's meeting in Dublin and the new EU Trade Commissioner.

With just over 50 days to go to the 31 October deadline, a series of developments have added further uncertainty and complexity to the unfolding Brexit drama.

Firstly, the passage of the No Deal Brexit legislation secured royal assent yesterday and Westminster was then swiftly prorogued as extraordinary scenes played out in the House.

Secondly, this coincided with Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s visit to Dublin to meet his Irish counterpart Leo Varadkar. There was an edge to the press conference which followed the meeting. The Taoiseach repeated Ireland’s long-held position on Brexit while the Prime Minister largely concealed the UK’s. There was, nevertheless, some sense that the Prime Minister’s hard-line stance was beginning to soften.

And thirdly, in a move which may have gone unnoticed, Irish candidate Phil Hogan was today nominated to the position of EU Trade Commissioner. This means that future UK-EU trade negotiations will be supervised by a man with an acute understanding of Irish concerns and the Brexit border dilemma. The move can conceivably be read as a pretty powerful indication from the EU that the Irish question will be prioritised during future trade negotiations. It is also a timely reminder that Brexit will be far from over on 31 October 2019.