Irish Government to up preparations for hard Brexit due to UK political instability

‘It’s prudent for any government to prepare for the worst’ - Leo Varadkar

Political instability in Westminster and uncertainty about the British Government's capacity to pass any Withdrawal Treaty through parliament means that the Irish Government will step up preparations for the possibility of a hard Brexit, the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said.

Speaking on Tuesday, Mr Varadkar expressed his belief that a withdrawal agreement could be successfully agreed between the EU and the UK before October, but added, “It’s prudent for any government to prepare for the worst.”

Referring to “political instability in London” and “turmoil in Westminster” Mr Varadkar said it “shouldn’t give us cause for panic”.

However, the Taoiseach gave voice to concerns in Dublin and Brussels about votes in Westminster on Monday night which contradict Government positions expressed in the white paper on Brexit.


"We waited a long time for an agreed position from the British Government, and now we see some votes in parliament that would indicate even a week or two later some departure from that," he said.

However, he said that future votes in Parliament could “supersede” Monday night’s votes.

“The votes that have taken place over the last week will obviously have to go along to the House of Lords, and the one thing that we all know is that when we come to a withdrawal agreement ... that also has to be approved by Westminster and the European parliament, so any vote on the withdrawal agreement in Westminster will supersede any of the votes that are happening now,” Mr Varadkar said.

“But I do think given the instability in Britain, given the turmoil in Westminster, we can’t make an assumption that the withdrawal agreement will get through Westminster.

“It’s not evident or not obvious that the government in Britain has a majority for any form of Brexit quite frankly and for those reasons to be on the safe side we as a government need to step up our preparations for a no deal scenario. It’s not that we expect that but it’s prudent that we should step up those preparations,” Mr Varadkar said.

Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy is Political Editor of The Irish Times