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Dublin: 13 °C Wednesday 20 March, 2019
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Ireland to intensify preparations for a disorderly Brexit

A Government statement said it regretted the outcome of tonight’s House of Commons vote.

Part of a mural by street artist Banksy in Dover.
Part of a mural by street artist Banksy in Dover.
Image: Matt Dunham

THE GOVERNMENT HAS announced it will continue to intensify preparations for a disorderly Brexit in the wake of tonight’s thumping defeat for Theresa May in the House of Commons. 

The UK Prime Minister’s bid to get the Withdrawal Agreement through the House was earlier defeated by a margin of 202 to 432, a majority of 230.

In a statement tonight the Government said it regretted the outcome of the Westminster vote. 

It added: 

“This outcome will add to uncertainty about the nature of the UK withdrawal from the EU. The Government urges the UK to set out how it proposes to move forward. We will then consider what next steps to take in consultation with our EU partners.”

The Government continued to believe, the statement said, that the deal between May and the EU was the best way to ensure an orderly withdrawal and avoid a hard border while also delivering on the UK’s objectives. 

Regrettably, the outcome of tonight’s vote increases the risk of a disorderly Brexit. Consequently, the Government will continue to intensify preparations for such an outcome.

The statement concluded:

The Irish Government recognises, however, that a disorderly Brexit is a bad outcome for everyone, not least in Northern Ireland. It is not too late to avoid this outcome and we call on the UK to set out how it proposes to resolve this impasse as a matter of urgency.

Meanwhile EU leaders have insisted the deal they signed with May in November remains the best way to avoid a feared “hard Brexit” at the end of March. 

“It’s now up to the British government to say what the next stage is. The EU will remain united and determined to find a deal,” chief negotiator Michel Barnier said.

Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, stated via a spokesman: “We regret the outcome of the vote and urge the UK government to clarify its intentions with respect to its next steps as soon as possible.” 

Earlier, Cabinet discussed preparations for a no-deal Brexit and confirmed more detail on legislation to be included in an ‘Omnibus Bill’ set to go before both Houses of the Oireachtas. 

It will have 17 pieces of legislation and statutory instruments relating to changes in the laws that will need to be in place post-Brexit.

Ministers held a press briefing earlier to discuss four contingency plan memos brought before Cabinet.

Health Minister Simon Harris said there was no need for the public to stockpile medicines in anticipation of a possible no-deal scenario.

Transport Minister Shane Ross said flights between Ireland and UK should be operating as normal on 30 March and predicted there would be no major disruptions. 

In terms of the ports, he said “it would be wrong to say there would be no disruption in a no-deal scenario” given the volume of checks needed for products going through the UK would be significant. 

Tánaiste Simon Coveney confirmed that that “deal or no deal”, there will be new agreements with the UK on the Common Travel Area relating to social security, education and healthcare. 

Both the Irish and UK governments have committed that the travel area will be maintained in all circumstances.

- With reporting from AFP 

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