Martin warns against ‘game playing’ on possible election over Brexit fallout

FF leader tells Ministers ‘put aside the snarkiness’ when challenged on Brexit plans

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said said at one level ‘this is simply the Taoiseach confirming yet again that he does not believe anyone should ever challenge him.’ Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said said at one level ‘this is simply the Taoiseach confirming yet again that he does not believe anyone should ever challenge him.’ Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

 

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has warned the Government against “cynical game playing” about a possible general election over the fallout from Brexit.

Mr Martin also told Ministers to “put aside the snarkiness” when they are “legitimately challenged” about their preparedness for the UK’s departure from the EU.

During the ongoing Dáil debate on the Brexit Omnibus Bill to deal with a no deal outcome, Mr Martin said that last year Fine Gael Ministers tried “a number of ways of collapsing the Government during sensitive Brexit negotiations”.

On Tuesday the Financial Times reported that “our Government might seek a nine month extension because it would allow it to call an immediate election”.

Mr Martin said this was backed up with a “direct quote to this effect from an anonymous Fine Gael Minister”.

He warned Taoiseach Leo Varadkar: “I hope we are not seeing a return to this type of cynical game-playing.”

The Cork South-Central TD also referred to Mr Varadkar’s comments at the weekend that Fianna Fáil is “sniping at the sidelines”.

He said that at one level “this is simply the Taoiseach confirming yet again that he does not believe anyone should ever challenge him”.

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But there was a much more important issue at stake that “he does not appear to accept that there are legitimate concerns about levels of Brexit preparedness”.

No answer

He accused the Taoiseach of occasional “messianic self-regard” as he referred to Mr Varadkar’s comments in July 2017 that the Government had no intention of proposing anything other than a full reversal of Brexit.

He lambasted the Government for not answering “the simple question” of what would happen at the border on March 29th if there is no deal.

“We’ve heard entirely contradictory statements made by the Taoiseach, Tánaiste and Minister Ross. According to the Taoiseach the army may be sent to the Border.

“According to Minister Ross there may be security checks. But according to the Tánaiste there are no such actions likely or being considered.”

And he told the Government to “please put aside the snarkiness whenever the Government is legitimately challenged on the level and pace of preparedness and stop trying to rewrite history”.

Earlier the Taoiseach said “we are prepared as we can be for this unprecedented challenge”.

He said “there will be a certain level of disruption, but we are doing all we can to minimise it”.

The Brexit Omnibus Bill, which Mr Varadkar referred to as “Bob” was part of this.

And he insisted that “for the last two years we have also been preparing for no deal” including a range of stakeholder forums, preparations at ports and airports, supports for businesses including the agri-food and the fisheries sector.

The Government was “continuing to take concrete steps in preparation for a no-deal scenario”, including the publication of its contingency action plan to mitigate the impacts of a no-deal Brexit and the European Commission had a package of contingency measures for a possible ‘no deal’ outcome.

This omnibus Bill was based on a “root and branch review of our legislation and prioritises issues that need to be dealt with urgently and immediately through primary legislation at national level”.

He added that “work is progressing in parallel on the required and complementary secondary legislation covering a wide range of issues, from recognition of driver licences, recognition of qualifications, changes to facilitate the introduction of postponed accounting, and legislation to reduce the advance notification period for imports of animal and plants from third countries using roll on/roll off shipping”.

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