Friday 18 January 2019

Cormac McQuinn: 'We know more about UK's 'no deal' strategy than our own'

 

'Asked what preparations are being made for the possibility of a hard border with Northern Ireland, the Government insists there are none as all sides are working to prevent this happening.' AP Photo/Peter Morrison
'Asked what preparations are being made for the possibility of a hard border with Northern Ireland, the Government insists there are none as all sides are working to prevent this happening.' AP Photo/Peter Morrison
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

More than 100 documents have been published by the British government on how its citizens can prepare in the event of a crash-out, no-deal Brexit. It includes guidance on everything from the effect on flights and mobile phone-roaming to taking pets abroad and the impact of a no-deal scenario on the UK's space programmes.

We know the UK is stockpiling medicine, building up a minimum of six weeks' supply.

How? Because the British government has said so and published an update on it this month.

The British handling of Brexit has been shambolic. But it has made efforts to tell its citizens, in detail, what will happen in the event of the worst-case scenario.

It's a different story on this side of the Irish Sea. The Government has so far remained tight-lipped on the details its contingency planning for the no-deal Brexit scenario.

There have been vague statements on accelerating the hiring of more customs staff and additional infrastructure at ports and airports.

We're told government departments have been examining emergency legislation that may be needed. There are references to the preparations being made by the European Commission in areas like agriculture and fisheries.

There is the Getting Ireland Brexit Ready website which has advice for citizens and details of supports available to business.

And asked what preparations are being made for the possibility of a hard border with Northern Ireland, the Government insists there are none as all sides are working to prevent this happening.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin challenged Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in the Dáil on the Government's less-than-forthcoming communications on no-deal planning. He claimed there was a tendency by the Government to be "coy and withhold information from the public" on the basis the truth would cause "undue panic".

Mr Varadkar brushed aside the remarks, saying that while there are "huge downsides" to Brexit, the economy is well-positioned to cope and will grow even if there is no deal.

Tánaiste Simon Coveney's spokesman argued Ireland and Britain can't be compared in terms of the level of information on no-deal planning that has been made public, because the UK is leaving the EU and Ireland will remain a full member with the "stability, continuity and security that brings".

He pointed to more than 70 European Commission notices on Brexit preparations that have been published.

But when can the Irish public expect to get more information on our own Government's planning for no deal? Again, that's vague. The answer from the Government is "in due course".

For now, we still know more about the UK's no-deal plans than our own.

Irish Independent

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Don't Miss