Micheál Martin accuses Government of ‘scandalous disregard’ for the Dáil on Brexit

Taoiseach under fire over delay in producing official plan on UK’s exit from the EU

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has insisted the delay in producing the Government’s Brexit preparation plans is an issue of sequencing.  Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has insisted the delay in producing the Government’s Brexit preparation plans is an issue of sequencing. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

 

The Taoiseach has insisted the delay in producing the Government’s Brexit preparation plans is an issue of sequencing, not secrecy.

Speaking in the Dáil on Wednesday, Leo Varadkar also said there would be no mini-budget early next year to deal with the consequences of a no-deal Brexit outcome. He said the October budget had factored in the possible impact of a no-deal Brexit.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin accused the Government of being “secretive” about its preparedness for Brexit, with just 100 days to go before the March 29th deadline for the UK’s exit from the EU.

He claimed the Government was being dismissive of the Dáil, the democratically elected parliament, on this issue, and that the Taoiseach himself had said up to 45 pieces of special legislation and statutory regulation could be required before March 29th to deal with Brexit.

He said the Government was showing “scandalous disregard” for the House when TDs were told that if they wanted to learn about the plans they should turn up at the stakeholders’ forum to be held on Thursday for business and other interest groups.

And he said there was the issue of a possible mini-budget, to amend provisions of Budget 2019 to deal with the need for further investment to cope with the fallout from Brexit.

Given that the Dáil’s Christmas recess starts on Wednesday and no Brexit plan had been provided to TDs, he asked Mr Varadkar: “Do you have any respect at all for the Dáil?”

He pointed out that there were only 29 sitting days in the new year before Brexit takes effect.

Contingency plans

The Taoiseach said the European Commission would on Wednesday publish its contingency plans for a no-deal Brexit and the State’s plan had to dovetail with these, so it was important that the commission’s plans be published first.

Reiterating that he still believed a no-deal Brexit was unlikely, Mr Varadkar said that the Irish plan was not yet completed and he expected to receive it on Wednesday evening.

He said he would not have any problem with providing it to TDs on Wednesday evening once he had read it himself.

The Taoiseach reiterated that there would be no need for a mini-budget even if there was no deal on Brexit. The budget had been framed with the fallout from a no-deal scenario in mind.

He said there will be a small budget surplus this year, and a larger one next year. The rainy-day fund would be set up next year, with 25 per cent further funding for transport, housing and other infrastructure projects.