TÁNAISTE Simon Coveney responded to the resignation of UK's Brexit Secretary David Davis by saying that Brexit was "much bigger than one person".
UK Prime Minister Theresa May faces a leadership crisis after David Davis savaged the Government's approach to Brexit while dramatically quitting as the minister responsible for the UK's departure from the European Union.
His resignation was warmly welcomed by hardline Eurosceptics in the Tory ranks who were already expressing reservations about Mrs May's leadership after her Cabinet agreed a plan which would keep the UK closely tied to Brussels.
Mrs May had hoped that the UK Cabinet agreement secured on Friday would help her deliver the "right Brexit", with an offer to Brussels to share a "common rulebook" on goods and form a new UK-EU free trade area.
Mr Davis's departure just 48 hours after being part of the Cabinet that agreed to Mrs May's has thrown her leadership into crisis.
Responding today, Simon Coveney told the Evening Echo: “Our focus is very much on the policy direction of the British Government. That is where we take our lead in terms of the British position, from the Prime Minister.
“It doesn’t surprise me that there are some in her cabinet who have a problem with that because there is divided opinion in the UK.
“We are going to work on the basis of the Prime Minister’s approach that she outlined this weekend to try to make sure that we protect Irish interests on the border, on the Good Friday agreement, on the common travel area and of course on a future relationship that is as close as possible between Ireland and the UK and the EU and the UK so that we can maintain the very strong trading relationship that we have.”
Speaking about the ongoing negotiations, Mr Coveney said he thought the UK’s new position was a step forward, but not perfect.
“I think it can be the basis of a serious negotiation now. While nobody likes to see people resigning, I think this is much bigger than one person or any group of ministers and our focus is to look after the interests of Ireland which is what we are trying to do and I will let the internal politics of the conservative party to others.
“We will continue to work with the British Government and take their position from the Prime Minister.
“She has to manage the internal divisions within her party just like we would have to if there was a resignation within the Irish party.”
Leader of Fianna Fáil Micheál Martin also reacted to the news of the resignation saying it indicates the challenges and difficulties that Theresa May has been facing.
“It was always going to come to a head and I think that has implications of how we approach it.”
Mr Martin said: “Theresa May is trying to develop a pathway that would minimise the negative impact on both Europe and Britain, however, she faces strong opposition within her party in terms of getting a sort Brexit.
“I think EU needs to be very conscious of this now and our own Government needs to be conscious of the fact that the forces of moderation within the British Conservative Party should be supported rather than attacking everything they do.
“Brexit is damaging to Ireland, no matter what form it takes and we have to keep a cool head in light of current developments and the overall objective has to achieve a soft Brexit.”