The appointment of British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss as Britain’s new Brexit negotiator is being greeted with caution by the government.
This comes after the resignation of David Frost, who was seen in Dublin as a major obstacle to an agreement on the Northern Ireland Protocol.
Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney already has a working relationship with Ms Truss due to their briefing.
The two also worked opposite each other when they served in their respective cultivation departments.
The government hopes Ms Truss will be a fairer worker than Mr Frost, who has stymied the negotiations with his stance on the European Court of Justice.
There were concerns in the government after Mr Frost announced his resignation that Prime Minister Boris Johnson would appoint another ardent Brexit supporter to bolster support among the Conservatives.
Mr Johnson’s popularity has plummeted amid the ongoing controversy over Christmas parties in No. 10 Downing Street. Johnson is also experiencing a major Tory rebellion over the introduction of Covid passes along with the fallout from an embarrassing loss in the Conservative by-election.
In Dublin, the government initially feared that the change in negotiator would lead to further volatility in the already tense trade talks between the European Union and the United Kingdom.
Early rumors that Brexit supporter Ian Duncan Smith would replace Frost have caused serious concern. However, there was some relief when it was announced that Ms Truss would take over the negotiations for a crucial period over the coming weeks.
EU Financial Services Commissioner Mairead McGuinness, who appointed Ireland to the European Commission, said she hoped Omicron’s version of Covid-19 and other big issues would help prompt Britain to reciprocate over concessions offered by Brussels.
The resignation on Saturday of Mr Frost, who was a key architect of Johnson’s troubled Brexit strategy, has raised questions about the future tone of the EU divorce and the immediate course of talks on Northern Ireland.
Ms McGuinness, who said the commission got no advance warning of Mr Frost’s resignation, speculated it could be linked to a softening of British opposition to the role of the European Court of Justice.
“I hope the mood is toward compromise and problem-solving, not Conservative politics, which I fear takes our eyes off the real issues, and will continue into the next year, which is not good for Northern Ireland,” Ms McGuinness told RTÉ Radio One.
«So people [in London] You see that there will be no compromise, there will be no progress and that is untenable.»
McGuinness called on Johnson to resist pressure to pick a hard-liner to replace Frost.
«If the priority is simply to please the hardliners in the Conservative Party, I think we are in a very bad position,» she added.
She said the focus should be on the issues and that it would be «disturbing» if progress depended on the personality of the negotiator.
She said Mr. Frost’s replacement should be «fully informed» and start acknowledging the concessions made by Brussels.
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