Belfast Telegraph

Irish Government implements no-deal Brexit plans but no border checks, says Varadkar

Businesses told to prepare for no-deal Brexit

Jonathan Bell

By Jonathan Bell

The Taoiseach has said Ireland’s plans for a no-deal Brexit are being implemented but reaffirmed there are no plans for border checks.

Leo Varadkar said he "profoundly regrets" Westminster's rejection of Theresa May's deal with the EU but said there would be no checks on the border between the Republic and Northern Ireland.

He said a no deal would negatively impact the economy warning those business not preparing for a no-deal to do so.

It comes after claims there is an understanding within the Irish Government there would have to be a hard border implemented which Dublin officials were refusing to admit.

Speaking in parliament on Tuesday, Prime Minister Theresa May said the EU could force Dublin to implement border checks should the UK crash out of Europe without a deal.

And, Irish Foreign Affairs minister Simon Coveney was caught in unguarded comments admitting that there could be a need for border checks.

“We’re not planning for checks along the land border between Northern Ireland and Ireland. Nor are we planning for checks in the sea,” said the Taoiseach.

He was addressing a news conference on Brexit in Dublin after Theresa May suffered a crushing defeat in the Commons. She did however see off a no confidence vote in her government on Wednesday and called for MPs to join with her in getting a deal with the EU.

Mr Varadkar warned of the implications of a no-deal Brexit.

“A no-deal scenario would have a deeply negative impact on jobs, on the economy, particularly the traded and agri-food sectors, our farmers and fishermen, our rural economy, our businessmen and women all over the country," he said.

“A no-deal scenario would not protect the peace in Northern Ireland, so we have to work hard to avoid it.”

The Taoiseach was speaking just a day after announcing a Brexit Omnibus Bill, a preemptive legislative Bill to tackle potential fallout from no-deal.

“Our plans for a no-deal exit will continue – they are no longer contingency plans, they are being implemented by government. Now businesses and other organisations, if they’re not doing so, must do the same,” he said.

“For government, this involves legislation including the Omnibus Brexit Bill and preparations at ports and airports for customs and SPS (Sanitary and Phytosanitary) checks.”

Contingency plans to ensure medicines supplies are not interrupted and further plans to support exporters, businesses, employers who may be effected severely.

"We should never forget Brexit is a British policy. After months of negotiations we found a solution. That solution has been rejected by Westminster, the problem now lies there.

"The onus is on Westminster to come up with solutions... but they must be solutions both the UK and Ireland can accept.

"If the UK were to evolve from its red lines on the customs union and single market that the European position could evolve also. We have always said the risk of disorderly Brexit at the end of March can be avoided including if necessary an extension of Article 50 deadline."

He said extending Article 50 would be up to the UK to apply for and subject to EU member states approving the move. 

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