Ireland seizes on Boris' exit and throws down Brexit gauntlet to UK moments after PM quits


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Boris Johnson resigns as Conservative leader

Mr Martin said: “While Prime Minister Johnson and I engaged actively together, we didn’t always agree, and the relationship between our governments has been strained and challenged in recent times. Referring to a 1998 Northern Ireland peace deal he added:”We now have an opportunity to return to the true spirit of partnership and mutual respect that is needed to underpin the gains of the Good Friday Agreement.”

Mr Martin said: “Prime Minister Johnson has led the British Government during an especially challenging period, including dealing with the impact of Covid-19 and the response to the war on Ukraine.

“From a personal perspective, I am conscious that he has been through a difficult few weeks and I extend my best wishes to him and his family for the future, following the announcement of his resignation.

“Britain is Ireland’s closest neighbour and the relationships between our two countries are long, deep and enduring.”

“Our two governments working in close partnership is a key underpinning for peace and prosperity on these islands.

Micheal Martin

Micheal Martin has welcomed Boris Johnson’s resignation (Image: GETTY)

Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson speaks outside Number 10 today (Image: BBC)

While he and Mr Johnson had “engaged actively together”, their problems in finding common ground had strained relations between the UK and Ireland, Mr Martin acknowledged.

He explained: “Our joint responsibilities concerning stewardship of the Good Friday Agreement, as well as nurturing broader bilateral relations between us, require us to work together in a spirit of respect, trust and partnership.

“That is more important than ever today and I would once again urge a pulling back from unilateral action, whether that be on dealing with the legacy of the past, human rights, or the Northern Ireland Protocol.”

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Simon Coveney, Ireland

Simon Coveney, Ireland’s Minister of Foreign Affairs (Image: GETTY)

Ireland’s Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney also weighed in, sayig the Irish Government “stands ready” to work with a new British prime minister.

Mr Coveney tweeted: “The Irish government stands ready to work with a new UK PM on protecting our shared achievements in the peace process and our shared responsibility under international law on Brexit.

“Let’s start with getting a government in Stormont. I wish Boris Johnson and his family well.”

Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald was less conciliatory, describing Mr Johnson’s interactions with Ireland as “wholly negative”, and saying he will “not be missed”.

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MaryLou McDonald

MaryLou McDonald, pictured with Michelle O’Neill and other Sinn Fein politicians, was critical (Image: GETTY)

Speaking in Dublin, Ms McDonald said: “Under his leadership we have seen an attack on the Good Friday Agreement, threat after threat to break international law.

“Boris Johnson’s government brought austerity to the people of the North of Ireland and, of course, he championed and brought Brexit, the disaster that is Brexit, to all of us.

“It needs to be stated clearly that whoever succeeds Boris Johnson as Prime Minister needs to change direction and change tact.

“We need the (Northern Ireland) Assembly and the Executive established without delay.

“We need a government that delivers for people and we need it very quickly, we are in the grip of a cost-of-living crisis.

“We need a British government that respects international law, fulfils its obligations under the Good Friday Agreement and understands, without any shadow of a doubt, that Ireland will not be the collateral for the Tory Brexit.

“Boris Johnson’s interactions with Ireland have been wholly negative and he will not be missed.”

Speaking outside Downing Street earlier today, Mr Johnson said he had quit as Tory leader after admitting he had failed to persuade Cabinet colleagues he could fight on.

He said it was “eccentric” to change governments at this stage but “I regret not to have been successful in those arguments”.

A new Tory leader will now be elected who will replace Mr Johnson in Number 10.

Mr Johnson added: “In politics, no one is remotely indispensable. I want you to know how sad I am to be giving up the best job in the world, but them’s the breaks.”

(More to follow)


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