Belfast Telegraph

No-deal Brexit ‘ugly’ prospect for Irish people and businesses

The document details the complexity that Ireland faces in a crash Brexit.

(PA)
(PA)

A no-deal Brexit is an ugly prospect that will put businesses and people under a great deal of strain, the Irish Government has warned.

Ireland’s deputy premier Simon Coveney made the comments as the Irish government published its latest contingency plans for a no-deal Brexit.

The document details the complexity that Ireland faces in a crash Brexit.

Speaking outside Government Buildings in Dublin, Mr Coveney said that a no-deal Brexit will put political relationships in the Republic and Northern Ireland “under strain”.

“It will make it more difficult for the institutions of the Good Friday Agreement to function and it will be a fundamental disruptor to the all island economy as it functions today seamlessly,” he said.

“There is no sugar coating of that message. For people living in border counties and in Northern Ireland, this will be really difficult.

“In a no-deal scenario, while we will prevent physical infrastructure, undoubtedly the imposition of tariffs and the need to protect the integrity of the single market, to keep Ireland in the single market that we have been part of creating, will provide a disruption to the all-island trade which is something that we will all work intensively to avoid.”

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Tanaiste Simon Coveney (Liam McBurney/PA)

Mr Coveney told the media that the “overarching theme” of the document is a stark message that there is no good news in a no-deal Brexit for Ireland, Northern Ireland or the UK.

“This will be a very, very difficult issue for Ireland to deal with but this document is about mitigating where we can the negative impacts of that scenario should it unfold,” he continued.

The 100-page document states that a crash Brexit would pose “unique and unprecedented” challenges for the UK, the EU and Ireland.

The extensive report further states that a no-deal would be an exercise in damage limitation and it would also be “impossible” to maintain the current seamless arrangements between the EU and UK across a full range of sectors.

It also found that a no-deal Brexit will have severe negative impacts in a number of sectors and among smaller and medium-sized businesses, and it will be widely felt on a regional basis.

It also warned of significant job losses in the most exposed sectors in a no-deal scenario, with an estimated increase in unemployment of 50-55,000 after the UK leaves the EU.

It further said that tariffs and checks and controls on UK imports will be disruptive to trade across the Irish Sea.

The report also said that the consequences of the UK crashing out of the EU could be “very damaging” for the political process in Northern Ireland.

“If the institutions are not in place at the time of a no-deal Brexit, there is a risk that the UK Government might initiate a move to Direct Rule in Northern Ireland as a response to managing the shift to new post-Brexit arrangements,” the report added.

“A no-deal Brexit will have profound implications for Ireland on all levels.

“These implications involve severe macroeconomic, trade and sectoral challenges.

“Notwithstanding mitigation measures in place, potential disruption to daily life in areas such as online retail purchases from the UK, access to medicines, and medical devices, and financial services sourced from the UK.”

Mr Coveney continued: “We will need to take some action somewhere in our economy to ensure that we are protecting the integrity of the products that are then going to be sold on out of Ireland but we are not going to put checks on the border or close to it.”

He said Ireland needs to make sure the integrity of single market is protected and that a situation does not arise where there is an “unguarded backdoor” through Northern Ireland into the EU single market which would “in effect take Ireland out of the single market against our will”.

“We as a government can’t allow that to happen and won’t allow it to happen,” he added.

Mr Coveney said that, personally, he does think the UK will crash out of the EU on October 31.

“I’m not a gambler, it’s just as well with Brexit,” he added.

“It’s a very real risk now and we need to be prepared for it in a very real way.

“One of the warnings I’ve given this week to businesses is that we can’t suffer from the boy who cried wolf mentality here.

“We’ve had a number of occasions where we’ve been marched to the top of the hill and then all of a sudden there’s been an extension.

“And anybody who assumes that somehow someone is going to pull a rabbit out of a hat between now and October I think is being very naive. People need to prepare for all Brexit outcomes.

“Others have suggested that there’s some evil plan on a shelf somewhere that can be implemented if necessary. There isn’t.”

He said that discussions between Ireland and the European Commission are continuing.

He continued: “We’re designing solutions here in very difficult circumstances with this dual responsibility we have towards peace and good relations and at the same time protecting Ireland’s economy and keeping us in the single market and customs union. And the European Commission is helping us to do that.

“But we know that in the build up to October, this time it’s for real, and we will need answers to these awkward questions.”

He said it was why the backstop was such a “clever solution to this difficult issue”.

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