Government still making plans for no-deal Brexit
Coveney says all departments are assessing ‘immediate legal or practical consequences’
It is understood that, following receipt of the initial assessments or legal, operational and regulatory issues before Christmas, the departments have now been asked for full lists on potential policy responses. Photograph: Brian O’Leary/RollingNews.ie
The Government is pushing ahead with contingency planning for a no-deal Brexit, in the event the UK leaves the EU without an agreement.
Government departments and agencies have been asked for a full list of possible responses to the issues involved, with the Cabinet likely to consider what action needs to be taken as a result.
A no-deal Brexit is seen as less likely after the December agreement to move the talks to the next phase.
However, with very significant difficulties to be overcome in the talks ahead, and warnings from London that the UK would walk away rather than sign an unfavourable agreement, the European Commission is undertaking a formal process to prepare for a scenario where the UK leaves without a deal.
Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney said, in a reply to a parliamentary question before Christmas, that while he thought it was unlikely that the UK would leave without a withdrawal agreement, all departments “are assessing in a very concrete way the immediate legal or practical consequences of a no-deal Brexit in their areas and what mitigating measures might be possible”.
It is understood that, following receipt of the initial assessments or legal, operational and regulatory issues before Christmas, the departments have now been asked for full lists on potential policy responses.
The work is being coordinated by the inter-departmental Brexit committee, chaired by Rory Montgomery, second secretary general in Mr Coveney’s department.
A no-deal Brexit would raise immediate trade and regulatory questions, threatening the food sector in particular and causing problems for business supply chains. It would also again raise the issue of Border controls on the island of Ireland.
Shortly after he became Taoiseach last June, Leo Varadkar ordered that preparation work by Irish agencies on how a hard Border might be handled be halted. The Government feared that this would undermine its argument that it was up to London to put forward solutions.