Boris Johnson has been warned he is heading for ‘a collision course with the EU’ by Ireland’s deputy leader.
Mr Johnson made an impassioned Commons speech shortly after he took office, where he spoke about delivering Brexit at all costs.
Yesterday "was a very bad day" from a #Brexit negotiating perspective.— Darran Marshall (@DarranMarshall) July 26, 2019
Tánaiste @SimonCoveney says "we will have to wait and see if the message coming from London changes in the weeks ahead." pic.twitter.com/rlEMe7gaan
He told MPs that although he would prefer to leave the EU with a deal, the existing withdrawal agreement - including the Irish border backstop - was "unacceptable to this country".
But Irish Deputy PM Simon Coveney said the comments made by Mr Johnson - who said he would like to scrap the Irish backstop altogether - were “unhelpful”.
Mr Coveney said: 'The statements of the British prime minister yesterday in the House of Commons were very unhelpful to this process.
“He seems to have made a deliberate decision to set Britain on a collision course with the European Union and with Ireland in relation to the Brexit negotiations, and I think only he can answer the question as to why he is doing that.'
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“From a Brexit negotiating perspective, it was a bad day yesterday and we will have to wait and see if that message coming from London changes in the weeks ahead.”
Mr Coveney made the statement after meeting the new Northern Ireland Secretary Julian Smith on Friday.
The backstop is a key part of Theresa May’s previously negotiated deal, which is to decide what will happen to the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.