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Coveney urges Boris Johnson to produce Brexit solution or it will be a 'disaster for Ireland'

Disaster: Simon Coveney
Disaster: Simon Coveney

By Cormac McQuinn

Boris Johnson's attempts to replace the backstop have been dismissed by the Irish government.

Addressing an audience in New York, Tanaiste Simon Coveney said if the UK continues on its current path, it will amount to "a disaster for Ireland".

He accused the UK government of "creating a much bigger problem to solve in the context of the Irish question".

As the House of Commons resumed, a defiant Mr Johnson insisted that he will not back down in his demands for the backstop to be scrapped.

Asked whether he would respect legislation which requires him to seek a Brexit extension if no deal is secured, Mr Johnson replied: "We will of course obey the law and we will come out of the EU on October 31."

However, even if the Prime Minister is humiliated into asking the EU for a delay, there is no guarantee it would be granted.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said: "There are a lot of other European countries though that are increasingly sceptical about whether there should be an extension or not, and would want it to happen for a good reason. But I think we are a couple of weeks away from that scenario arising.

"Certainly, I would rather see a deal being ratified, so that we can end the uncertainty that has been affecting citizens and business for far too long now."

As the chaos continued, the DUP called for tariffs to be applied on goods moving from the Republic into Northern Ireland if there is a disorderly Brexit.

MP Sammy Wilson said if the Republic puts checks in place then they must be replicated in Northern Ireland.

The UK government has repeatedly stated that it will not create any checkpoints.

But Mr Wilson said: "The current approach by the government places Northern Ireland businesses at a disadvantage, will lead to a loss of tax revenue, make Northern Ireland a backdoor to Great Britain and alleviates pressure on the Republic of Ireland to reach a sensible deal.

"This would be the same Irish government which has displayed incredible intransigence throughout these negotiations," he said.

The Irish government has said it needs to protect its place in the single market by carrying out checks in a no-deal scenario.

British officials yesterday submitted another set of proposals for how to maintain an open border without the backstop. However, sources say the documents do not amount to a workable, legal alternative to the existing deal.

On the fringes of a UN summit in New York, Mr Coveney challenged the Prime Minister to come up with a real solution.

He expressed frustration that Ireland is spending "hundreds of millions" to prepare for Brexit, which is a "problem that is not of our making and that we disagree with". And he warned that if a hard Brexit results in two different regulatory systems in Ireland, "you have to have border infrastructures".

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