Irish ambassador’s latest move in the Republic’s role in the campaign to keep the UK in the EU

The FT (£,unfortunately) reports a strategically timed interview with the Irish ambassador to the UK , the Yeats-loving Dermot Mulhall. Remember when the Irish people reversed their “ wrong” answer in the first referendum on the Lisbon Treaty? It was the bold Dermot who fund the way through, apparently. Now he’s recommending that the UK follows a similar route to avoid the calamity – for both islands – of Brexit .

But eventually the rest of the EU agreed to the Irish protocol — covering issues such as abortion laws and the freedom to set low corporation tax rates — provided it did not have to be ratified immediately .. Eventually we came up with the suggestion of a protocol but ratified at the time of the Croatian accession to the EU ( in 2014)”.

The idea of a “ post -dated cheque” before a UK referendum is held is the get- out- of- jail card from France’s and Germany’s refusal to go for treaty change on a deal to keep Britain in. The legally binding protocols could be tagged on to any future referendum on say, new fiscal rules for the eurozone and would emphasise the reality of a two- or multi- speed Europe. it remains to be seen  if they’d convinced the genuinely sceptical.

Irish interest in keeping Britain in the EU will feature strongly in the coming campaign. It wil be quite a test for the DCA’s diplomacy to avoid being accused of improper interference in UK internal affairs by the Out campaign. I’d say it only emphasises the obvious facts of interdependence.


Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London