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Brexit: Jobs minister says businesses being asked to 'prepare for worst possible outcome'

Yesterday the queen approved a request to suspend UK parliament next month.

Minister for Business Heather Humphreys
Minister for Business Heather Humphreys
Image: Sam Boal via RollingNews.ie

BUSINESS MINISTER HEATHER Humphreys has said the government is telling businesses to “prepare for the worst possible outcome” in relation to Brexit. 

Humphreys’ comments come after UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson yesterday asked the Queen to suspend parliament from the second week in September until 14 October, less than two weeks before the UK is set to leave the European Union. 

The Queen approved this request, and the move by Johnson has sparked outrage and condemnation from opposition MPs. 

The move limits the time available to opposition MPs hoping to pass new laws that could prevent a no-deal Brexit before 31 October. 

When asked by reporters today whether yesterday’s developments will make a hard border more likely, Minister for Communications Richard Bruton said: “I think it is very difficult to see the political hyping of the issues and the clock ticking away and a lot of political positioning rather than, you know, working the details of how resolutions can be found. 

“I think it’s disheartening and it does make the risks greater.” 

Speaking alongside Bruton, Humphreys said that the government has told businesses to “prepare for the worst possible outcome” while it continues to “find the best possible solution for Ireland”. 

She continued: 

The worst possible outcome is a no-deal Brexit and we have said that very clearly.

“We do not want a hard border with Northern Ireland and I can assure you, I live on the border and nobody wants to see a border coming back between us and Northern Ireland, so we’re doing everything we can, talking to the [European] Commission, we’re working with them to find the solutions but it is not easy.”

The Irish SME Association yesterday said it is asking SMEs to “focus on taking simple steps towards business preparation for a hard Brexit”. 

Backstop

Speaking on RTÉ Radio One’s Morning Ireland, Minister of State for European Affairs Helen McEntee said that in the past three years, what was happening was “unprecedented”.

“What’s clear for us is we need to remain calm,” she said. “We cannot allow the slate to be wiped clean when all this change continues to take place in the UK.”

When asked whether the UK government had put forward any credible, new alternatives to the backstop, McEntee said: “No.”

Echoing this sentiment, Humphreys said that “there will be no movement on the backstop”. 

“The backstop is our insurance policy and it will remain,” she said. 

Humphreys said that “there is nothing good in Brexit” for Ireland, but added that “the Withdrawal Agreement is the best possible outcome”.

Last night, protesters descended on the streets around Westminster to protest against Johnson’s decision to prorogue parliament, chanting “If you shut down our parliament, we shut down the streets”.

A petition against the proroguing of parliament unless there’s an extension to the Brexit deadline or Brexit is cancelled entirely, has reached over 1 million signatures in less than 24 hours. 

With reporting by Gráinne Ní Aodha

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