Brexit: Government plan for electricity barges in Irish sea should Northern Ireland be cut off
Government officials fear thousands of electricity generators may need to be requisitioned from the Army and put on barges in the Irish Sea to keep Northern Ireland's lights on in the event of a 'no deal' Brexit.
A document drawn up by officials said the plan would see equipment commandeered from the military and flown back from Nato-led operations in countries such as Afghanistan, according to a report in the Financial Times.
The 'worst-case scenario' is part of a private Government paper outlining negative consequences of the UK leaving the European Union without any deal.
Northern Ireland and the Republic share a single energy market but UK officials fear leaving the EU without an exit deal would lead to energy providers in the south cutting off power to the north because Britain would no longer be part of Europe's electricity market.
To avoid blackouts, the outlandish plan would see thousands of generators taken from the military. One official told the FT that the idea of electricity barges in the Irish Sea was one of the most "gob-smacking" elements of the contingency planning.
"I can't believe this hasn't really been noticed by the wider world," he told the newspaper.
A Government source also told the paper: "We are working hard on a solution.
"We have made good progress on this and a number of other issues during recent negotiations… however, as a responsible Government we will continue to prepare for all scenarios, including the highly unlikely outcome that we leave the EU without any deal next March."
Meanwhile, the Irish Finance Minister has warned that a 'no deal' Brexit will result in the loss of 40,000 jobs in the Republic and severely hit exporters and the agri-food sector. Paschal Donohoe cited research from his department and the Economic and Social Research Institute which shows that a no deal scenario would see Irish unemployment rise by 2%.
He said job losses would be expected to reach 40,000 and economic output would drop by 4% over a 10-year period, compared to a scenario where Britain was to remain within the EU.