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Thursday 24 October 2019

Ireland ready 'if proverbial hits the fan' and there's a disorderly Brexit - Varadkar

Leo Varadkar (Laura Hutton/PA)
Leo Varadkar (Laura Hutton/PA)

Shona Murray

Contingency plans for a hard-Brexit will have to be accelerated as the risk of the UK crashing out of the EU without a deal grows.

The Taoiseach said the government’s "central planning" is that the UK leaves the EU at the end of 2020.

But current turmoil and total disarray in Britain have increased the chance that agreement on the future relationship with the EU or the Withdrawal Agreement may never materialise.

Part of the plan is the recruitment of 1000 customs and veterinary inspectors to deal with any products coming from the UK that will be subject to regulatory checks.

A crash out in March next year "would be an enormous challenge; not just for us but even more so for the UK and France and the Netherlands and that’s why I think everyone wants to continue to try to negotiate," said the Taoiseach today.

He said the government was prepared for the “shock” of  a disorderly Brexit and if “the proverbial hits the fan”.

Essentially the plan is “an acceleration of the central case scenario; it’s having to do everything that we have two years to do in the space of a few months,” said Mr Varadkar.

The cabinet held a special meeting in Derrynane House in Co Kerry to discuss the post-Brexit planning.

The government also insisted that it is not planning for a border on the island of Ireland, even though this is seen as one of the main consequences of a hard Brexit.

“It’s very simply something we’re not going to countenance; we’re not going to have situation whereby there’s a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, where there is physical infrastructure put in place with associated controls and checks.

“Absolutely nobody wants that to happen and we’re not going to put in place a contingency for such a scenario that not even the hardest brexiteers want to happen” said Mr Varadkar.

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