Kilkenny’s Big Phil attacks ‘unelected’ Boris, accuses British PM of ‘gambling’ with peace process
By COLIN BARTLEY
IRELAND’S EU Commissioner – the former Kilkenny TD Phil Hogan – has launched the biggest EU broadside yet at new UK leader Boris Johnson, calling him an “unelected” Prime Minister who is “gambling” with the peace process.
Mr Hogan attacked the direction the British Government is taking on Brexit and, using a quote made famous by its wartime leader Winston Churchill, turned the tables Johnson’s recent no-deal rhetoric.
“Never have so few done so much damage to so many,” Commissioner Hogan declared.
Ireland’s EU Commissioner for Agriculture made the comments at the Thomas D’Arcy McGee Summer School in Carlingford, Co Louth, earlier today, in what is viewed as another escalation of the war of words between the EU and Johnson’s Government.
Earlier this week Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Mr Johnson had reportedly frank phone exchange in relation to the Northern Ireland backstop, which is an insurance policy to prevent the return of a hard border on the island.
EU Council leader Donald Tusk and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have also reiterated their stance that there will be no change to the withdrawal agreement.
Speaking today, Mr Hogan said a no-deal Brexit would have “serious consequences” for a future UK-EU trade deal and would create a “foul atmosphere” between the UK and EU member states.
The Kilkenny man said it will be the British people, not the politicians, who will suffer the most from a no-deal Brexit.
He added: “If the UK fails to prevent a crash-out Brexit they should be under no illusion regarding the foul atmosphere they will create with their EU partners and the serious consequences this will have for negotiating any future trade agreement.
“The UK continues to negotiate based on its experience of being an EU member. This misses the point completely: from the moment the UK came back to Brussels with the infamous red lines, the EU has negotiated on the basis of the UK opting for third-country status.”
Mr Hogan scolded the UK Prime Minister for surrounding himself with hardline Brexiteers and urged the UK cabinet to start taking ownership of the Brexit situation.
“The UK government needs to take responsibility for its choices before it is too late. Prime Minister Johnson’s hero is Winston Churchill and he seems to view himself as a modern-day Churchill.
“However, in the event of a no-deal Brexit, the UK government’s only Churchillian legacy will be ‘Never have so few done so much damage to so many’.”
Mr Hogan launched another volley specifically aimed at Mr Johnson’s claim in his four-page letter to the EU this week, that the backstop is “anti-democratic”.
Commissioner Hogan said it “seems strange” Mr Johnson would mention anti-democratic, as he is an “unelected” Prime Minister himself.
He added Mr Johnson had failed to provide concrete alternatives to the backstop in his letter to the EU and accused him of “gambling with peace and the Good Friday Agreement”.