Politicians across Ireland have said a leaked report setting out British preparations for a hard border in the event of a no-deal Brexit comes as no surprise.
The documents, published by the Sunday Times, warn that the UK will be hit with a three-month “meltdown” at ports, a hard Irish border and shortages of food and medicine if it leaves the EU without a deal.
Responding to the report, which reveals a number of details from leaked Cabinet Office documents, Sinn Fein’s deputy leader Michelle O’Neill said Ireland as a whole had been voicing these concerns for months.
“These reports are no surprise to those of us on this side of the Irish Sea who have been voicing our very real concerns on the consequences of a no-deal Brexit for a considerable period of time directly with the British Government and the European Commission,” she said.
“The island of Ireland faces its biggest and most profound challenges in a generation as the threat of a no-deal Brexit becomes a growing reality in the immediate time ahead.
“The British Government continues to purposely ignore the cross-community majority of citizens in the North of Ireland and elected Assembly members who vehemently disagree and voted to oppose this unwanted Brexit during the referendum in 2016.
“The consequences of a no-deal Brexit will result in a hard border which threatens our hard-won peace and undermines the political and economic progress of the past 21 years enjoyed across the whole island, but particularly in border communities which have been transformed.
“It will have devastating effects for the island of Ireland and our people, businesses, farmers, workers and communities.
“Staying within the single market and customs union, safeguarding the Good Friday Agreement, protecting business, jobs and the all-island economy and citizen’s rights remains paramount for the majority of the people of the North and across Ireland.
“The British Government is dealing with the North of Ireland and the peace process as though it’s a commodity and it is a reckless, dangerous approach to take and one which must be opposed by the EU27, US Congress and those who value the progress of the past 21 years in Ireland.”
Ireland’s main opposition party, Fianna Fail, noted the severe impact no deal would have on Ireland’s economy.
Spokeswoman Lisa Chambers said: “This leaked document merely backs up all of the warnings that Ireland has been outlining about the fallout from a no-deal Brexit.
“Let me be clear, a no-deal Brexit would be catastrophic for the island of Ireland – this document catalogues a sector-by-sector impact on the UK, but there will also be huge implications for these areas in Ireland.
“Given the make-up of the North’s economy, structured around the SME and agri-food sector, and the very tight supply chains linking North-South and East-West, the effects of a no-deal Brexit would be severe and damaging.”
SDLP Leader Colum Eastwood said Prime Minister Boris Johnson does not understand the situation in Northern Ireland.
“Boris Johnson and his plans for a no-deal Brexit on 31 October are a threat to stability and prosperity on this island,” he said.
“Following our meeting earlier this month, SDLP concerns that Johnson does not fully understand the complexities and fragilities of relationships in Ireland were confirmed.
“The details in this leaked document now confirm that he doesn’t care either.
“We know that a no-deal Brexit will result in food and medicine shortages. Now, by the British Government’s own admission, we know that trade across the border will grind to a halt.
“This British Government, far from sending a clear message to Brussels, is sending a clear message to people and businesses in Northern Ireland – they are willing to sacrifice our economic, political and social wellbeing to please rabid nativists in their own ranks.
“This British Government has no mandate for a no-deal Brexit. If they refuse to reverse position then they should call a general election and put it to the people.”
The DUP commenting on the report said the article was an attempt to undermine critical negotiations and stoke fear in the public.
Party leader Arlene Foster said there was still time for a deal and called for cool heads going forward.
“This leak has come at a time when the new Prime Minister is planning to speak to EU leaders as we approach the UK leaving the EU in October,” she said.
“Attempts to undermine these talks with EU negotiators are not in the national interest. It is important that we use the remaining time to work on getting a deal, with the best possible outcome for the UK.
“There is still time for a deal but requires an attitude change in Dublin and Brussels.”