Donohoe says no deal 'more likely' as he rejects UK push to bin backstop
Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe has said the backstop must form part of any future Brexit deal as he warned a no-deal scenario is now "more likely" than ever.
Mr Donohoe was responding to comments about scrapping the backstop by the two candidates to be the next British prime minister, Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt.
Both Tory leadership hopefuls said on Monday they would seek the complete removal of the guarantee of no hard Border between the North and the Republic of Ireland from any future Brexit deal - a request likely to be rejected by Ireland and the European Union.
Mr Donohoe said Theresa May's successor in Downing Street would have to confront the reality that leaving the EU's customs union and committing to there being no infrastructure along the Irish Border means that a guarantee of regulatory alignment - a backstop - is needed.
"This reality, I fear, will become quickly apparent to any new UK colleagues who have to wrestle with this issue," Mr Donohoe said.
"If you are deciding to leave the customs union and you are making a commitment to no infrastructure and not returning to a hard Border, regulatory alignment and alignment of standards in relation to agriculture and health mean you need a backstop.
"That has been the reality that we've had to grapple with now for nearly three years and it is a reality that will confront a new British prime minister."
Mr Donohoe said that a change in personality or outlook in dealing with Brexit would not affect the position of the Irish Government and the European Union.
"We will not be changing the backstop," he insisted.
Asked if the comments of Mr Johnson and Mr Hunt had now made a no deal more likely, he said it was a "significant and increasing risk", but that the Government would make a determination on the likely outcome in September following consultations with the new British prime minister and the European Council.
"It is more likely than it has been and it is a material and real risk that we now have to plan for," he said.