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Government looking at port checks on whole island in no-deal Brexit – Taoiseach

‘Entire island will be treated the same when it comes to agriculture, food,’ says Varadkar

Leo Varadkar said Britain would have to accept Northern Ireland being treated differently. File photograph: Geoffroy Van Der Hasselt/Pool/Reuters

The Government is exploring the idea of checking live animals and animal products from Britain as they arrive at ports on the whole island of Ireland if there is a no-deal Brexit, Leo Varadkar said on Friday.

This week, the Government repeated that it would not impose any restrictions along the Border if the UK quits the EU without a transition agreement. But Mr Varadkar’s announcement today was the first mention that checks would need to be made somewhere to protect the EU single market.

“The kind of things that we’re looking at and proposing, for example, is that the entire island of Ireland will be treated the same when it comes to agriculture or food and that any SPS [sanitary and phytosanitary] checks would happen at the ports,” Mr Varadkar said in an interview with Newstalk.

“That would mean Britain accepting that Northern Ireland is being treated differently. The other things obviously are checks at business level and random checks and controls, and we’ll have to have a lot more of them anyway because of smuggling.

“This is not a good solution, this is vastly inferior to what we negotiated with prime minister [Theresa] May and is vastly inferior to the North’s current model,” Mr Varadkar said

The impact of a no-deal Brexit on Northern Ireland would be harder than on any other part of Europe, Mr Varadkar warned, and the backstop remained the best compromise.

Mr Varadkar said the next British prime minister will face a “very serious reality check” on Brexit upon taking office.

And he rejected as “incorrect” a claim by the leading candidate, Boris Johnson, that the Border issue could be resolved in a transition phase. – Reuters

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