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Ray Bassett, Ireland’s former ambassador to Canada, Jamaica and the Bahamas, said his country needed the two sides to strike a deal more than any other member of the EU27 – and warned it was facing a “very difficult outcome” without one. Mr Bassett was speaking after Mr Martin attempted to strike an optimistic note on Saturday in the wake of the resumption of talks between EU negotiator Michel Barnier and UK opposite number Lord David Frost.
Mr Martin, who may also have been buoyed by Mr Barnier’s conciliatory tone when speaking to the European Parliament on Wednesday, told an online conference: “My gut instinct is that the British Prime Minister does want a deal.”
However, Mr Bassett was under no illusions about the seriousness of the situation from Dublin’s perspective.
He told Express.co.uk: “Ireland is now desperate for an EU/UK deal.
A no deal Brexit would just confirm some people’s view that the Taoiseach and this Government have been jinxed from the beginning
“Martin is especially keen because his Government has got off to a very shaky start and he is languishing badly in the polls.
“A no deal Brexit would just confirm some people’s view that the Taoiseach and this Government have been jinxed from the beginning.”
Mr Bassett added: “The Irish business model was built on attracting American Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) to Ireland and to use this English-speaking state as a springboard to the EU market.
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“If there are difficulties in exporting through the UK landbridge to the continent for Irish based firms, this will be a big disincentive to locating in Ireland.”
Mr Bassett outlined his concerns for Ireland’s future in his recently published book, Ireland and the EU Post Brexit.
He said: “Remember Ireland will be very peripheral to the centre of the EU after Brexit.
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“As I say in my book, it will comprise four-fifths of an offshore island behind a larger offshore island that is not in the EU.
“The vast bulk of Irish goods travel through the western UK ports, Liverpool, Holyhead, etc, on their way to markets in the Netherlands, France, Germany, etc.
“For that situation to continue, Ireland needs to ensure that there are no new custom or regulatory checks with the UK.”
In his book, Mr Bassett characterises Mr Martin’s predecessor, Leo Varadkar, as a “loyal son of Brussels” throughout the Brexit negotiations, and of believing Brexit to be reversible.
Mr Bassett explained: “Ireland, unfortunately, bet the kitchen sink on the Remainers winning in London and lost.
“It is now facing a potentially very difficult outcome.
“Ireland needs a UK/EU deal more than any other EU country.
“This is why the Irish rhetoric has gone from the strident outbursts of Varadkar and Coveney to this new softer line of Martin.
“However, this is not to say that the recent more positive developments in the Frost/Barnier talks are not real and are not genuinely welcomed in Dublin.”
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