Dublin might have to opt for ‘Irexit’ and quit EU, says Irish diplomat

Prime Minister David Cameron (right) welcomes Taoiseach Enda Kenny to 10 Downing Street in London in November 2015. But Dublin did not help Mr Cameron in the EU referendum, says a former Irish diplomat. Photo: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire
Prime Minister David Cameron (right) welcomes Taoiseach Enda Kenny to 10 Downing Street in London in November 2015. But Dublin did not help Mr Cameron in the EU referendum, says a former Irish diplomat. Photo: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

The Republic of Ireland should not rule out leaving the European Union, a senior former Irish diplomat has said.

Ray Bassett says that the Irish state faces a “momentous decision” after Brexit, but has stubbornly chosen to stick with the EU regardless.

Mr Bassett, writing in the News Letter today, says Dublin should instead keep its options open.

The Republic’s ex ambassador to Canada, Jamaica and Bahamas is one of the first establishment figures south of the border to float the idea of ‘Irexit’–Ireland leaving the EU.

Mr Bassett writes: “The Irish state faces a momentous decision in the wake of the Brexit vote.

“That decision will shape its future – to decide whether to continue to be part of ‘Team EU’; or alternatively once the UK leaves, that its future lies more with the North Atlantic Anglophone world.”

He adds: “Therefore, the decision of the Irish government to peremptorily stick with Team EU, regardless of the outcome of the Brexit negotiations, is perplexing to say the least. I have never heard of a country going into negotiations without a bottom line before.”

Mr Bassett says that Dublin did not “lift a finger to give [David] Cameron a decent hand in the referendum”.

Now that that vote has been lost, he says the Irish Department of Finance has outlined “a dire scenario in the event of a hard Brexit” but has not examined the cost of leaving “the EU and keep a free trade area with post Brexit Britain”.

It is, he says, “the height of folly not to consider all options”.

Ray Bassett: Dublin needs to keep its options open including quitting the EU