May 24, 2019 / 9:47 AM / 4 months ago

New British PM will not get better Brexit deal - Ireland

Simon Coveney, Ireland's Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade answers journalists' questions before a Ministers of EU Affairs meeting in Luxembourg, April 9, 2019, a day before the EU leaders' summit in Brussels is due to decide on Brexit delay for Britain. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay

DUBLIN (Reuters) - The European Union will not offer a better Brexit deal to the person who takes over as British prime minister, Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said on Friday, after Theresa May announced she was stepping down.

May said she would step down as Conservative Party leader on June 7, triggering a contest that will bring a new prime minister to power who is likely to push for a more decisive Brexit divorce deal.

Coveney, who played a key role in the deal May reached with the EU but failed to ratify in parliament, partly due to push back on arrangements for Ireland’s border with British-run Northern Ireland, said the change of prime minister would pose huge challenges for Ireland.

“From my perspective, I don’t see the European Union offering any new prime minister a better or very different deal to what was on offer to Theresa May,” Coveney told Ireland’s Newstalk radio station.

“This idea that a new prime minister will be a tougher negotiator and will put it up to the EU and get a much better deal for Britain? That’s not how the EU works.”

Coveney has been saying this week that the chance of Britain leaving the EU without a deal was now higher than at any time during the negotiations, although he said he still believed a smooth exit with an agreement was more likely.

He also said that while he believed Britain would likely be granted a further extension in the talks if they seek one in October, the assumption by some in the United Kingdom that such a no strings attached extension was a given is a naive view.

“I think anything is possible now but I think Britain needs to be careful because I think from an EU perspective, not an Irish perspective, that patience has run out. The EU wants to get on with many, many other challenging political questions,” he said.

Reporting by Padraic Halpin; Editing by Kevin Liffey and Janet Lawrence

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