No-deal Brexit closer following Commons vote, Tánaiste says

Simon Coveney ‘deeply disappointed’ by latest rejection by MPs of Theresa May deal

Tánaiste Simon Coveney said the onus was now on London to find a way out of the current crisis. Photograph: Tom Honan/PA Wire

Tánaiste Simon Coveney said the onus was now on London to find a way out of the current crisis. Photograph: Tom Honan/PA Wire

 

A no-deal Brexit looks closer because of the latest rejection by the House of Commons of the withdrawal agreement and the new reassurances given to the UK this week, Tánaiste Simon Coveney has said.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs said he was “deeply disappointed” with the result in the House of Commons, which saw MPs vote down the deal by 149 votes.

It saw the withdrawal agreement rejected, even with legal assurances given by the European Union on the backstop, the insurance mechanism to avoid a hard Irish border. The backstop has proved to be the main stumbling block to the deal passing in Westminster.

Mr Coveney, in line with a message coming from most EU capitals, said the onus was now on London to find a way out of the current crisis.

“We have worked really hard in the last number of days, but not just in the last number of days but in the last number of months with our EU partners to try to offer the flexibilities and the assurances and the clarification that the British government were looking for in order to get this deal ratified,” Mr Coveney said.

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“It hasn’t been possible to do that this evening so the onus is now on the British government and the British parliament to come up with a solution. I think the British prime minister outlined very clearly that the parliament in London faces hard choices now.”

Vote

The UK parliament will vote on Wednesday on whether to take a no-deal Brexit on March 29th off the table and, if it does, another vote will take place on Thursday on whether the UK should ask the EU for an extension of the article 50 negotiating period.

Such an extension requires the unanimous consent of the remaining EU 27 member states.

“The focus has to be on London,” Mr Coveney said. “That is where the crisis is, that is where the problem is and that is where the solutions need to come from.

“We here in Dublin will continue to plan for a no-deal Brexit, which, of course, looks closer now than it did a few hours ago. But we have a huge amount of work done.

“We will have by the end of this week our omnibus piece of legislation for no-deal Brexit ready to go and in place. And of course the Department of Finance and Public Expenditure has been working with many other government departments to work with businesspeople, to work with vulnerable sectors, to put plans in place that should that worse-case scenario happen we will be as ready as we can be.

“But let me make it absolutely clear: a no-deal Brexit scenario is a lose-lose-lose for everybody, for Britain for Ireland and for the EU. We need to all work to avoid that but we cannot do it without the British parliament buying into that process and agreeing something which this evening they couldn’t do.”

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin called it a “serious and disappointing setback”.

“My hope is that before the end of this week, British politicians will realise how high the stakes are for millions of ordinary working people and start putting the national interest ahead of Brexit politics,” he said.

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