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Donohoe says 'cliff-edge' Brexit can be avoided but no-deal risk is growing

The finance minister said British chancellor Sajid Javid is “absolutely committed” to Britain leaving the EU by 31 October.

Brexit Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe speaking to the media at the Irish Embassy in London after a meeting with Chancellor Sajid Javid yesterday. Source: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire/PA Images

FINANCE AND PUBLIC Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe has said the risk of a no-deal Brexit is growing but that such a scenario can still be avoided.

Donohoe is currently in London, where he met new British chancellor Sajid Javid yesterday.

Speaking on RTÉ Radio 1′s Morning Ireland, Donohoe said both men used the meeting to reiterate their respective governments’ positions.

Donohoe said Javid is “absolutely committed” to Britain leaving the European Union by the current deadline of 31 October.

He said he told Javid that the Irish government remains committed to the backstop element of the Withdrawal Agreement, describing it as “the best possible insurance policy for all of the risks that we may need to deal with in the future”.

Many Conservative and DUP politicians have raised concerns about the backstop, which aims to avoid a hard border between the Republic and Northern Ireland and could see the North stay aligned to some EU rules post-Brexit.

Donohoe said the backstop is vital for trade and the stability of the peace process. He reiterated these comments when speaking to British media. 

times Source: Times.co.uk

The minister described Brexit as “a unique event”, noting: “something like this has never happened before”. He said a no-deal Brexit is becoming increasingly likely, but can still be avoided.

I believe it can be avoided. I believe, for example, in the negotiations that could yet take place regarding agreements on the future relationship between the European Union and the United Kingdom, the prospect of a cliff-edge Brexit could be avoided or mitigated.

“But I also do want to emphasise and acknowledge that because of events of recent weeks, the prospect of a no-deal Brexit is material and it is a risk that is growing,” Donohue said on Morning Ireland. 

He added that the Irish government is making preparations for the potential consequence of a no-deal Brexit in terms of trade, border checks and the peace process.

“We will want to mitigate any of the consequences of this, but of course this is the very reason why we want a backstop agreement in place in the first instance.”

Donohoe said people are “working very hard to avoid” the possible negative consequences of Brexit.

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He added that a no-deal scenario would have “very significant consequences for the content of [Budget 2020, which is due to be delivered in October] and the measures included in it”.

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Órla Ryan

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