MEPs scoff at new Irish party’s Brexit aspirations

MEPs from across the political spectrum have poured scorn on a new political party which is campaigning for Ireland to leave the EU and will field candidates in this year’s European elections.
Photo Credit: Press Association

By Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at the Parliament Magazine

07 Jan 2019

The new Irish party, called Irexit Freedom to Prosper, was founded by Hermann Kelly, Director of Communications for the Eurosceptic EFDD Group in the European Parliament.

Kelly told this website he did not want to comment but, speaking at the founding meeting of the party, he confirmed the party will be running candidates in the European elections.

The elections are due to take place alongside local elections in Ireland in May.


Kelly spoke at the meeting of “the benefits and the necessity of leaving the EU”.

“Why? So we can take back control over trade policy, money and borders, and be a free country once again. We were a free country for a short period after we left the last political union we were in, which was the British Empire.”

He reportedly said: “The relative advantages of being in the EU have decreased and now that we are a net contributor of €400 million a year to old, drunk men who make our laws, I think we’re crazy to stay in.”

About 350 people attended the opening conference.

"A political formation led by a UKIP spin-doctor has nothing to offer to Ireland other than empty promises based on nostalgia for a mythical past that has no relevance to our citizens and their best interests" Nessa Childers MEP

In its political programme, the Irexit Freedom to Prosper party says exit from the EU will “permit the Irish people to take back control” over a range of issues including law-making, human rights, borders and immigration policy, currency and foreign and security policy.

It sets out 12 principles, including to “support all efforts to strengthen the Irishness of Ireland, in particular its language and distinctive cultural and historical traditions”, and to promote a “society of liberty with a free and diverse media which supports free speech, freedom of association and freedom of religion”.


Several MEPs have been quick to dismiss the new party.

They include SNP deputy Alyn Smith, who told this website, “I’ve seen these slippery shysters in action for years and have confidence that my Irish friends will, pardon the language but I think it is quite justified, know shite when they smell it. This dishonest and dodgy bunch deserve no more comment nor attention than that.”

Irish Socialist MEP Nessa Childers said, "A political formation led by a UKIP spin-doctor has nothing to offer to Ireland other than empty promises based on nostalgia for a mythical past that has no relevance to our citizens and their best interests."

Elsewhere, Catherine Stihler, Labour MEP for Scotland, was also scathing, saying, “Brexit will be an unmitigated disaster and I am fighting hard to stop it.”

“The overwhelming majority of MEPs in Brussels, including our friends in Ireland, want the UK to remain - apart from UKIP MEPs. Any members elected from Irexit Freedom to Prosper will find it very lonely, and they will also find themselves on the wrong side of history.”


Meanwhile, a few days out from a crucial Westminster vote on whether to adopt Prime Minister Theresa May’s deal, the British Department for Exiting the EU has assured EU citizens that they can remain in the UK if there is no deal.

The likelihood of a no-deal Brexit has increased as a large number of Theresa May’s own party have indicated that they will vote against her deal on Monday or Tuesday next week.

If this happens, it is not certain what the next step is: Brexiteers have indicated that they could renegotiate another Brexit deal with the EU - but the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier, as well as May herself, have repeated that this is the only deal on offer.

To add to the confusion, a top advisor to the European Court of Justice has said that the UK would have the power to unilaterally revoke Article 50 and reverse Brexit - that means they would not need the consent of the other EU 27 member states. If this were to happen, the UK would most likely have to pay for the cost of two years of negotiations.

In a report on citizens’ rights, the Department for Exiting the European Union (or DExEU), wished to reassure citizens: “To remove any ambiguity about their future, the UK Government wants to reassure EU citizens and their family members living in the UK that they are welcome to stay in the UK in the unlikely event of a ‘no deal’ scenario.

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