Wednesday 26 September 2018

Government is planning for a 'no-deal' Brexit

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Photo: Frank Mc Grath
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Photo: Frank Mc Grath

Shona Murray

Preparations for a no-deal scenario on Brexit are being stepped up by the Government as the UK veers towards the cliff-edge, the Taoiseach has said.

Mr Varadkar joined leaders from the UK's devolved governments for a summit of the British-Irish Council in Guernsey where the impasse on Brexit negotiations was centre stage.

The June deadline for the UK to bring an agreeable version of the backstop will pass without progress at next week's EU summit.

Mr Varadkar told the meeting he still believes a solution to the backstop is "achievable" by the October council, but "at the same time we also need to be prepared for the possibility that won't happen".

"We'll be stepping up our preparations for all possible situations, and that does include a 'no-deal' scenario.

Criticism

"All countries will be preparing for that," he said.

He gave a veiled criticism of the most recent offering on the backstop by the British government which would see the UK remain within the EU customs union structure for a limited time.

The paper was also silent on crucial issues regarding the EU single market rules.

What the backstop "is all about" is there will be no border infrastructure and no associated controls and checks, said Mr Varadkar. "From our point of view there can only be a Withdrawal Agreement if there's a backstop," he said.

And to be a backstop "it needs to actually solve the problem; so it needs to do with customs and regulatory issues, and it needs not to have an expiry date".

"The whole point is that it doesn't have an expiry date."

While the Taoiseach said that he had "trust" in his British counterparts, he said relations were not where they needed to be.

He answered "not at the moment" when asked whether he believes the EU and UK can get their relationship right in order for the backstop not to be required.

The Taoiseach reiterated that in his opinion a "no deal scenario was now more likely than it was a few months ago".

However, he said it wasn't in anyone's interests for this to happen, so talks would intensify to avoid this.

Irish Independent

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