Farage says Ireland may move towards 'Irexit'

The former leader of UKIP has said he believes public opinion in Ireland will move towards an ‘Irexit’ if the UK secures a good deal in negotiations with the European Union.

Nigel Farage also welcomed the resignation of British ambassador to the EU, Ivan Rogers, and said that he should have resigned the same day that David Cameron did.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Today with Sean O’Rourke, he said Mr Rogers was the senior negotiator who had gotten the UK a “paltry, rotten deal” as part of its re-negotiation with the EU.

Mr Farage added that Mr Rogers was the wrong person to lead Brexit talks because he was so pessimistic about it and someone with a positive mentality should be heading up the team of negotiators.

He said he believed this resignation was the first sign of Prime Minister Theresa May getting tough with those who disagreed with Brexit.

Mr Farage said he feared if the Brexit process did not get under way quickly, and if Brexit does not really mean Brexit and a watered down deal was reached, then the next general election should provide a bigger shock than the referendum result.

He said in an ideal world the EU states would be grown up and recognise the importance of the UK market and sign a trade deal, similar to the one reached with Canada.

Mr Farage said Europe was an important market place, but it was not the whole world and the UK needed to think globally, adding it was clear that US President Elect Donald Trump wants to have a relationship with the UK.

He said that no deal with the EU, and the UK trading on World Trade Organisation rules, would still be better than the deal it currently had.

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Mr Rogers, who stepped down from his position yesterday, has told his colleagues ministers needed to hear “unvarnished” and “uncomfortable” views from Europe.

In his resignation note, which was obtained by the BBC, Ivan Rogers urged his staff to support each other when they “have to deliver messages that are disagreeable to those who need to hear them”.

Mr Rogers said he hoped his colleagues would never be afraid “to speak the truth to those in power” and that they would challenge what he called ill-founded arguments and muddled thinking.

His comments will only further fuel speculation that he stood down because his advice had not been well received by the British government.

It emerged last year that he had advised Ms May that a UK-EU trade deal could take up to ten years to negotiate.

His note to his staff also said that “serious multilateral negotiating experience is in short supply in Whitehall”, and he added that is not the case in the European Commission or in the Council.

He said that the UK government needed to harness the best experience possible in order to secure the best deal in Brexit negotiations.

Remain supporters have called Ivan Rogers’ resignation a “body blow” for Brexit, while Leave campaigners such as former Mr Farage have welcomed it.

Meanwhile the European Commission has said it regretted Mr Rogers’ resignation.

“We regret the loss of a very professional, very knowledgeable while not always easy interlocutor and diplomat, who always loyally defended the interests of his government,” Natasha Bertaud, a spokeswoman for the Commission, said.

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