Speaking at the British Irish Chamber annual conference in Dublin, Mr Hayes, Fine Gael MEP, has called on Michel Barnier, European chief negotiator for Brexit, to ensure that any Brexit deal is approved unanimously by the other member states, rather than a “super-qualified” majority of EU leaders under the current proposals. “In practice, given the tradition of consensus within the EU and its overarching role, the European Council, of which the taoiseach (the Irish Prime Minister) is a member, will need to be satisfied with the deal – Ireland continues to use every opportunity to ensure that our unique concerns are understood by EU partners and the EU institutions.” Under the “super-qualified” majority rules, at least 72% of members of the council, comprising at least 65% of the population of member states must consent”. Mr. Hayes also warned against “opportunistic” moves by Irish nationalists to exploit Brexit in the push for a united Ireland. “I don’t think any good will come from it — it will undermine the Good Friday Agreement, it will undermine the inevitable reconciliation we will see in Northern Ireland, which was the primary task of the agreement, and it will undermine the totality of the relationship.” Mr. Hayes added that some parties were putting their own interests ahead of the country’s in seeking a border poll on Irish unity in what he said was an example of the “toxic nationalism people are trying to ratchet up right now”. The UK Government also already expressed a strong commitment for there to be an open border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland after the UK has formally left the EU. A poll conducted in Ireland last year showed that more than 75% of Irish citizens supported the EU and would vote to remain in an in-out referendum.
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