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Republic of Ireland's economy preparing for a 'no-deal Brexit'

Plans: Phil Hogan

The Republic's economy is preparing for a no-deal Brexit, a former Irish government minister has said.

Phil Hogan, now the EU's Agriculture Commissioner, said Britain must resile from any red lines to get agreement on its impending divorce from the EU.

Mr Hogan, a former Irish environment minister, said contingency plans in the event of customs duties having to be collected and administered at the border were being fleshed out.

He told the Sunday Business Post: "The mood is not optimistic in relation to the possibility of reaching an agreement at the moment.

"We remain to be convinced that the UK are able to get unity amongst themselves in order to be able to remove many of the red lines that are in place, which has narrowed the options in relation to reaching an agreement."

Mr Hogan said the European Commission had sent out 70 stakeholder notifications in recent weeks to various sectors warning them to prepare for a no-deal Brexit.

He added: "I think every sector is preparing, they're coordinating the sectors."

His comments, reported yesterday, came after NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens revealed there is "significant planning" to ensure the health service is ready for a no-deal Brexit.

Mr Stevens said the NHS had been working with the government to ensure the supply of medicines and equipment continues in "any Brexit scenario".

The NHS boss told BBC One's Andrew Marr Show that a no-deal Brexit was not "a desirable situation" but welcomed the preparations.

Last October, Mr Stevens told Parliament's health select committee the service had not been asked by the government to examine the potential impact of the UK leaving the EU without a trade deal in place.

Mr Stevens said: "There is immediate planning which the health department, with other parts of government, are undertaking around securing medicine supply and equipment under different scenarios."

Yesterday a Cabinet minister left the door open to extending Britain's transition out of the EU.

Under the current timetable the implementation period is set to end in December 2020. But Business Secretary Greg Clark refused to rule out an extension to the arrangements.

He said: "At all times we need to be guided by the evidence on this, speaking to the people that run this very successful port (Dover) and the same with Eurotunnel, in order to make sure that we can continue the success, and that we don't have frictions, there are things that would need to (be) put in place, computer systems for example, posts at the border, even if they checked, automatically, number plates.

"What we need to assess is how long it would reasonably take to put in practice and then it seems to me that any reasonable person would have to be guided by the facts and the evidence."

Commons leader Andrea Leadsom said December 2020 was not a "magical date".

Belfast Telegraph