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Government ‘stepping up’ planning in event of no EU/UK trade deal being agreed

Leo Varadkar said ‘very little progress’ has been made between the UK and EU in trade deal talks.

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Leo Varadkar insists Brexit has not been forgotten amid the Covid-19 crisis (Photocall Ireland/PA)

Leo Varadkar insists Brexit has not been forgotten amid the Covid-19 crisis (Photocall Ireland/PA)

Leo Varadkar insists Brexit has not been forgotten amid the Covid-19 crisis (Photocall Ireland/PA)

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said the Irish Government has stepped up planning for what might happen if the UK does not agree a trade deal with the European Union.

Speaking at a post-cabinet briefing in Dublin on Friday, he said very little progress has been made on Brexit talks.

Mr Varadkar said: “While the Government is prioritising Covid, we haven’t forgotten about Brexit either. Among the things we agreed to do is to step up no-deal planning, that no-deal trade planning, in case we get into that position at the end of the year.

“As we all know, Brexit has not gone away and talks are intensifying at a European level with a view to an EU/UK seminar being held next month.”

EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier has said the bloc would be willing to consider a two-year extension of the transition arrangements to provide time to reach a comprehensive agreement.

But the UK Government has insisted the transition period will end as scheduled at the end of the year.

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Mr Varadkar said while little progress has been made in EU/UK talks, he is hopeful the situation can be resolved.

“Very little progress in reality has been made on those talks but that is often the way talks go,” he said. “Sometimes you have to have a crisis or a breakdown before you come to an agreement or a solution.”

He added: “We of course have a deal on the Irish specific issues but we don’t have a deal on trade – when we talk about no deal these days, we mean no trade deal.

“I have given approval to the Department of Foreign Affairs to begin drafting new Brexit legislation.”

However, he said it cannot be enacted until a new Government is in place.

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