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Brexit: UK has to 'knuckle down' and get a trade deal with EU - Irish PM

 He also said failing to reach an agreement would be "very, very damaging all round".

The UK and EU are in talks but big differences still remain on fishing access and state aid rules.

Boris Johnson has insisted there is a deal "to be done" and that the "outlines" of an agreement are clear.

The UK officially left the EU on 31 January, but has been in a transition period since then - following many of the bloc's rules while a trade agreement is negotiated.

That period is due to end on 31 December and if a deal is not agreed, the UK Political News will trade with the bloc on World Trade Organization rules - leading to tariffs being introduced on many imports and exports, which could push up costs for businesses and consumers.

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Speaking to the BBC, the Irish prime minister Mr Martin warned that failure to get a deal would be "ruinous" for the UK and that Ireland would also suffer.

"We've all had a very significant shock to our economic system because of Covid-19 - the last thing we need now across all of our respective economies is a second major shock," he said.

He said US President-elect Joe Biden would introduce a "greater thrust towards multilateralism" and that the UK should follow his "orientation" by working with the EU.

He dismissed suggestions that the EU had not compromised in the talks and said he believed a deal could still be reached.

'Niggling doubts'

Mr Martin also warned the UK  News or UK government to be "very careful that they do not do anything that could destabilise the politics of Northern Ireland" as it leaves the transition period.

Throughout the Brexit process both sides have said they want to avoid a hard border - a border with cameras and border posts - between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Mr Martin said failure to reach a deal could create "tensions that are unnecessary" and that there was a danger these concerns were not being taken seriously enough.

He cited the government's Internal Market Bill as an example. The bill is designed to enable goods and services to flow freely across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland after 1 January - when the post-Brexit transition period runs out.

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It gives the government the power to change aspects of the EU Withdrawal Agreement, a legally binding deal governing the terms of Brexit made earlier this year.

Ministers say the bill would provide a "safety net" in case the EU interprets the agreement, in particular the section on Northern Ireland, in an "extreme and unreasonable" way. The section - known as the protocol - is designed to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland.

The UK government has said the bill protects peace but Mr Martin said it did not "take on board the implications for politics within Northern Ireland itself".

He added that the bill had created "niggling doubts" over whether the UK could be trusted.

"Efforts have to be made to reassure the EU side that what has happened in terms of the Internal Market Bill is not going to happen in 12 months' time in the event of a deal being agreed between the European Union and the United Kingdom," he said.

'The most Irish of presidents'

Mr Martin also talked about his conversation with Mr Biden who he described as "probably the most Irish of presidents" since John F. Kennedy.

He said Mr Biden was "very committed" to the Good Friday Agreement - the peace deal that among other things established power sharing in the region - and that he did not want Brexit to undermine it.

Asked if he thought the new American president would be closer to the UK or Ireland, he said "I don't buy that simplistic narrative".

"He loves Ireland and he has great time for the UK.

"But I mean it was very clear in the conversation that he has a deep affinity to our country - and it's wonderful to hear that.

"I think if I'm honest, there's a great sense of relief across the world in the sense that we feel an easing of tensions in terms of the multilateral impulse that I see in President-elect Joe Biden."


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