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'We're preparing for worst-case-scenario': No-deal Brexit planning to be ramped-up by Government

Cabinet met to discuss preparations for a no-deal Brexit last night.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar attended a Cabinet meeting to discuss no-deal Brexit preparations last night (file photo)
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar attended a Cabinet meeting to discuss no-deal Brexit preparations last night (file photo)
Image: PA Archive/PA Images

Updated Sep 4th 2019, 1:28 PM

THE GOVERNMENT WILL ramp-up plans for a no-deal Brexit following what it sees as the “increasing risk” that Britain will leave the European Union without a deal.

Ministers will review Brexit preparations within their departments and relevant agencies after Cabinet met last night for an update on negotiations between the EU and UK.

The Government’s position on contingency mitigation and preparations for a no-deal Brexit was also discussed by Ministers, who agreed that planning for such an outcome would be given “top priority” across all departments and agencies.

A number of exercises will now take place in coming weeks to help the Government refine its preparations and inform its approach to emergency crisis management in the event that Britain leaves the EU without a deal.

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe will also bring a memo to Government shortly on his Budget preparations, including the implications of a no-deal Brexit scenario.

“Notwithstanding the full range of preparations and mitigation measures in place, a no-deal Brexit risks potentially severe impacts in a number of areas,” the Government said in a statement.

This afternoon, Tánaiste Simon Coveney attended an Enterprise Ireland event to prepare businesses for Brexit, where he told reporters that the UK already had a Brexit deal.

Hinting at a possible snap election in the UK, he also said that if the UK was to seek an extension of Article 50 beyond 31 October, the government would have to make a case to do so.

“If there’s an extension looked for, then I think whichever Prime Minister asks for that will need to make a persuasive case as to how that extension can be used to get a deal,” he said.

The Tánaiste added that if the British government wanted a new deal, they would also have to offer alternative proposals to the current withdrawal agreement.

Moments later on RTÉ Radio 1′s News at One, Coveney was asked whether any such proposals by the British government were forthcoming.

“No, there aren’t,” he said.
There are conversations happening. Boris Johnson has visited a number of EU capitals … but there is no proposal from the British government which can be a basis for discussion and negotiation.
We have made it very clear… [that] if Boris Johnson’s government has proposals that can do the same job as the backstop, and they want to replace the backstop with those proposals, we need to see what they are.

Worst-case scenario

This morning, Agriculture Minister Michael Creed announced the extension of the closing date for the Beef Exceptional Aid Measure (BEAM) and outlined plans for further support to assist farmers in making their applications online. 

The online application process was opened on 19 August and was scheduled to close on Sunday 8 September but this has been extended to midnight on Sunday 15 September.

Earlier on Morning Ireland, Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Regina Doherty said the Government was being left with “no choice” but to prepare for the UK’s departure from the EU without a deal.

However, she insisted that the Government had not accepted that such a scenario was inevitable.

“There’s a fine line between accepting that 57 days out that we will have no deal… and still working tirelessly every single day that we want a deal,” she said.

“We want the United Kingdom to fulfil their ambition to leave the European Union, but with a deal – a trade deal that actually protects the relationship of trade between North and South.”

Doherty also suggested that the Government was available to discuss alternatives to the current withdrawal agreement agreed between the UK and the EU.

“We haven’t lost sight of that,” she added. “Yes, we’re preparing for worst-case-scenario, but also working really hard to make sure that that doesn’t materialise.”

Her comments follow a vote by UK MPs to debate a bill today that would extend the current Brexit deadline from 31 October to 31 January at the earliest. 

MPs now have the chance to pass all stages of the bill today, but British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to table a motion for a general election – to be held on 14 October – because he will not accept the bill.

“I don’t want an election. The public don’t want an election,” he said last night.

“But if the House votes for this bill… the public will have to choose who goes to Brussels on October 17 to sort this out and take this country forward.”

With reporting by Michelle Hennessy and Hayley Halpin

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