Monday 14 October 2019

UK 'must put checkpoints north of the Border' after no-deal exit

Taoiseach issues trade warning

Regulations: The Taoiseach says UK will have to adhere to WTO rules. Picture: Caroline Quinn
Regulations: The Taoiseach says UK will have to adhere to WTO rules. Picture: Caroline Quinn
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

Checks on goods and animals will also have to be established on the northern side of the Border in the event of a no-deal Brexit, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has warned.

Despite repeated promises from British Prime Minister Boris Johnson that he wouldn't erect checkpoints, the Taoiseach believes the UK will have no option.

Irish officials will meet the European Commission again next week to discuss how checks would operate in the Republic.

Mr Varadkar insisted the Government has yet not identified any sites for checks.

"When it comes to checks - if there are checks - the vast majority of them, we intend to take place at ports and airports, some at business level," he said.

During his visit to Dublin on Monday, Mr Johnson said he would not sanction checks and hoped the EU would reciprocate.

However, Mr Varadkar said the UK would have no option if it planned to operate under World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules.

He told 'Virgin Media News': "Let's be honest, if the UK leaves on WTO rules, both them and us will have to implement WTO rules.

"We couldn't ignore them indefinitely."

The Taoiseach said such a scenario was accepted in the UK's 'Operation Yellowhammer' document, which outlines the issues that will arise in a no-deal scenario.

"If the UK decides to leave the European Union without a deal, on WTO terms, they can't ignore the WTO rules. They would have to implement those rules, and their own documents acknowledge that would mean checks on their side of the Border at some point," he said.

Mr Johnson said yesterday he was "cautiously optimistic" of getting a Brexit deal as he prepared for talks with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

The prime minister will travel to Luxembourg on Monday for his first meeting with Mr Juncker and EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier since taking office in July.

He claimed there was the "rough shape" of a deal in place.

However, Tánaiste Simon Coveney said there was no basis for the reopening of a serious negotiation on Brexit.

Amid speculation that the DUP is softening its opposition to a border down the Irish Sea, the Irish Government has played down expectations of a breakthrough.

Mr Coveney and the Taoiseach both said the EU was still waiting on formal proposals from the UK government.

The Tánaiste said they would listen to ideas for alternative arrangements to the backstop but they would have to do the "same job".

"That's got to be legally sound. It's got to be negotiated in Brussels between the team for the UK and Michel Barnier's task force. I think that's where these ideas get tested," Mr Coveney said.

Asked about suggestions that the Northern Ireland Assembly could have a say over how EU rules are applied in the region after Brexit, Mr Coveney said it was "not as straightforward as some people are suggesting".

Mr Varadkar said he was "not aware of any change in position by the DUP", but said it could speak for itself.

He said the Irish Government was open to alternatives "but I have to say what's been put forward so far falls very far short of what we would need".

The Taoiseach said there was some contact with the DUP but it would up to the EU task force to negotiate any new initiatives aimed at avoiding a disorderly Brexit.

Irish Independent

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