Today begins a critical fortnight in the Brexit negotiations. Later this month the European Council will meet to decide whether there is an acceptable solution to the “hard border” issue in respect of Northern Ireland.

Labour Party Leader Brendan Howlin has said:

“It is entirely unclear that the positions being pursed by the British Government have the support from the British Parliament. What evidence we have suggests not. It appears too that the British Government thinks so too.

“Having been defeated 15 times in the House of Lords the British Government is yet to bring the EU withdrawal Bill to the House of Commons.

“The May Government is refusing to advance its own Trade and Customs Bill in the House of Commons too, because it fears defeat at the hands of Conservative rebels and Labour, the SNP and the Liberal Democrats.

“Meanwhile the EU is obliged to engage with a British Government whose extreme Brexit position draws no mandate either from the people in the Referendum or Westminster.

“With the key summit coming up in the next month, I see no way whereby Ireland can assent to progress on talks. It is time for Britain and its parliament to get its act together.

“If Mrs May has a mandate for her position, let her prove it. Ireland has suffered once to often at the hands of internal Conservative Party machinations.”