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Brexit border checks in Ireland will start 'immediately' on April 12 if UK crashes out, warns EU

Varadkar dodges questions and claims to 'confident' May will pass deal

DUP say their opposition to backstop is unchanged

Simon Coveney and Leo Varadkar (Niall Carson/PA)
Simon Coveney and Leo Varadkar (Niall Carson/PA)

Checks on goods entering the Republic of Ireland from the UK will have to be "immediately" applied in the event of a no-deal Brexit, the EU has warned.

The stark statement was made as the European Commission said it is “increasingly likely” that the UK will crash out of the Union on 12 April.

The commentary will raise massive fears for businesses on this island - but Taoiseach Leo Varadkar refused to engage with reporters on the issue while attending an event in Dublin this afternoon.

He claimed to be “still confident” that embattled British Prime Minister Theresa May will get her Withdrawal Agreement through the House of Commons.

Shortly after that expression of confidence, the DUP, who are central to approving the deal, said their opposition to the backstop is unwavering.

The European Commission has today completed its no deal preparations.

They noted that the UK will become a third country without any transitionary arrangements unless the current course of events is altered.

In that scenario all EU primary and secondary law will cease to apply to the UK from that moment onwards.

"This will obviously cause significant disruption for citizens and businesses,” the Commission said.

Without a deal, the UK's relations with the EU would be governed by general international public law, including rules of the World Trade Organisation.

"The EU will be required to immediately apply its rules and tariffs at its borders with the UK. This includes checks and controls for customs, sanitary and phytosanitary standards and verification of compliance with EU norms.

"Despite the considerable preparations of the Member States' customs authorities, these controls could cause significant delays at the border,” the Commission note said.

One EU official in Brussels told reporters that controls will have to be done on the island of Ireland “but doesn't mean we'd want to see visible infrastructure”.

"We're working very closely with Irish authorities to try and perform controls away from border if at all possible,” they said.

The EU statement comes just a day after Mr Varadkar claimed proposals for what would happen in a no-deal scenario were “very rough”.

He said the Republic is “intensifying our no-deal preparations”.

"They have been very much underway now for months, if not years. They are being intensified and finalised at the moment. We need to see now what happens in Westminster over next couple of days and weeks and we’ll take it from there.”

Earlier Tánaiste Simon Coveney rejected suggestions that protecting the EU Single Market and avoiding a hard border were now mutually incompatible given the UK stance.

"No, they are not. The way in which we do this we have worked through over the last three years and we’ve come up with a mechanism to do it – it’s called the 'Back-Stop' in relation to a fall back insurance mechanism in the absence of other ways of doing it that are agreed by all sides.

"In a no-deal scenario, the British Government have made it clear in their paper that they published the week before last that the British Government, the Irish Government and the European Commission will need to work closely together,” he said.

The Cork TD stressed that German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been consistent with her position throughout the Brexit process.

"What Chancellor Merkel said is that we need to make sure that the twin responsibilities that we have, protecting the Single Market and ensuring that there isn’t the re-emergence of a physical border between the two jurisdictions on the island of Ireland, to make sure that we can do that so we would welcome her intervention which is about ensuring that there are practical arrangements in place that fulfil both of those commitments and that is what she said."

Mr Coveney added that the onus is now on everyone involved in the Brexit process, but most especially on the UK, to ensure a compromise agreement is achieved.

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