Bertie Ahern says it's key Ireland and the EU supports Theresa May

Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has called on the Irish Government and the EU to support UK Prime Minister Theresa May, saying keeping her in office is key to getting a Brexit deal over the line.

Mr Ahern lashed out at her critics at an event in Dublin, saying criticism in the UK of an agreed text on a deal for the Irish border is premature and unfair.

He said it is key Mrs May retains her position if Britain and the EU are to come to an arrangement that protects the peace process.

“My advice is let’s try and keep Theresa May standing. It is not in our interests to see her in chaos,” said Mr Ahern.

“There is enormous hostility against her proposals. It is a bit daunting for all of us who take an interest in this that before the new proposals are out and not even totally completed that all of the groups are against her [criticising the proposals].”

He said Brexiteers’ criticism of an agreement between UK and EU negotiators was unwarranted.

“Borris Johnson, Jacob Rees Mogg and Sammy Wilson, all of them without seeing it have condemned it out of court.

“I heard Borris [Johnson] with absolute indignation, saying this regulatory regime would be the worst thing ever. He hasn’t read the document, he hasn’t an idea and even if he had [read it] he wouldn’t get it.”

He said such criticism highlights the challenge Mrs May faces.

“[Theresa] May must get this through cabinet, then her party and then parliament,” said Mr Ahern.

“I am glad Christmas is coming because you need the season of good will to get all that through.”

He added it was vital post-Brexit for the EU to continue funding institutions on the island of Ireland that evolved from the peace process because the UK’s EU exit could cause immeasurable damage.

“Brexit has introduced great uncertainty into Anglo-Irish relations.

“It is therefore impossible to quantify to damage that will be done to this country, economically, politically and in terms of the peace process. But the stakes and the risks are very high.

“We have a solemn obligation to this generation and future generations not to let Brexit – or anything else – undermine the foundations of a hard won peace.

“A hard border would be totally regressive and benefits nobody on this island.

“Unfortunately, customs posts if they return and fixed points on a hardened border would likely become targets for dissidents.

“Furthermore, a hard Brexit will be an obstacle to the cross-border economic cooperation that is profoundly benefiting both states on this island.  It will also damage trade and investment, North and South.

“We have to do all we can to avoid this.”

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