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Coveney seeks approval for new Brexit omnibus bill as he warns ministers there may be no trade deal

The UK government has said it will not request an extension to the transition period – and will reject any such request from the EU.

Image: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

THE TÁNAISTE WILL seek approval from Cabinet today for a new Brexit Omnibus Bill to be drafted and will advise ministers on the possible outcomes if there is no extension to the transition period past 31 December.

Yesterday the UK’s chief negotiator said any request for an extension to the Brexit transition period from the EU will be rejected.

David Frost said that the government’s position on the issue is “pretty clear”, and that negotiators are working towards an end of year deadline.

Tánaiste Simon Coveney will bring a memo to Cabinet today outlining preparations for the rest of the year in relation to Brexit, including the position of talks on the future trade deal between the EU and UK. 

There have been three rounds of talks already, led by the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier. A fourth round of talks is scheduled to take place, with a high level summit to follow before the second part of the year. 

Coveney’s memo will state that the government does not believe the UK will seek an extension to the transition period past 31 December and there are therefore two possible scenarios at the end of this year:

  • A limited trade deal
  • No trade deal

If there is no trade deal, the UK and EU will be trading on World Trade Organization terms from 1 January 2021. 

All government departments are now preparing for both scenarios, though the preference for Ireland and the rest of the EU is a trade deal that keeps the UK as close as possible. 

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The memo will also seek approval for a new Brexit Omnibus Bill to be drafted to cover the needs of eight government departments. Last year’s omnibus bill covered a no withdrawal agreement scenario and since a no-deal situation was averted new draft legislation is required. 

Coveney’s memo will also seek approval for a new communication campaign with key stakeholders including business and citizens to be ready for whatever scenario.

The memo will note the UK’s commitments last week to the Withdrawal Agreement and the Irish protocol which guarantees no return to a hard border on the island regardless of the outcome of the trade talks.

- With reporting by Christina Finn.

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