The Address | Benghazi – Libya
LONDON – Tensions long-buried by close economic relations and peace in Northern Ireland have risen to the surface once again, infecting Britain’s divorce negotiations with the European Union just as they reach their final stages, POLITICO reported.
Diplomatic neglect and personality clashes have played their part, with the two sides at times descending into undignified sniping, barely-concealed irritation and open hostility, reaching all the way up to Irish Taoiseach (prime minister) Leo Varadkar and the Cabinet table in Westminster.
The breakdown not only threatens to damage the longer-term diplomatic relationship between London and Dublin, but also risks seeping into the peace process north of the border with far more profound consequences for Britain, Ireland and the rest of Europe as it continues to snare up the U.K.’s withdrawal from the EU.
“Britain has never understood Ireland, but we can’t just wish this away,” said Jonathan Powell, Tony Blair’s former chief of staff and a key figure in the 1998 peace agreement. “If this goes on, we could face really quite a serious problem. If we don’t start paying attention, we could get into trouble.”