Simon Coveney: Departments preparing for Brexit failure

Minister for Foreign Affairs says he personally believes no-deal outcome unlikely

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Simon Coveney said the EU taskforce would negotiate in a way that was consistent but fair and which showed some understanding of British difficulties.  Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Simon Coveney said the EU taskforce would negotiate in a way that was consistent but fair and which showed some understanding of British difficulties. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

 

Government departments are preparing for the fallout from the UK failing to negotiate a withdrawal from the EU, Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney has told the Dáil.

“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,’’ he said.

“It will then be necessary for the Government to consider the situation in the round and discuss whether specific actions are required at that stage.’’

Mr Coveney told the Dáil that the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade had lead responsibility for planning and preparing position papers on the aftermath of the EU-UK negotiations.

“This requires research on, and analysis of, very many legal, institutional and political issues,’’ he added.

‘Decisive’

“The eventual outcome of negotiations will, of course, be decisive in determining the shape and effects of Brexit.’’

Mr Coveney said he personally thought a no-deal Brexit was unlikely.

“It would be very, very bad for Britain and for Ireland should that happen,’’ he added.

“I do not believe the British government will allow it happen.’’

He said the EU taskforce would negotiate in a way that was consistent but fair and which showed some understanding of British difficulties.

He said Ireland’s permanent representation in Brussels and embassies in all member states sent a constant stream of reports describing and analysing the concerns and priorities of EU institutions and our partners.

Mr Coveney said there were two serious issues currently outstanding: the financial settlement and the Border.

“The British government knows this and there is a big onus on it to come forward with some new thinking regarding the Border in the next few weeks,’’ he added.

“Any government must plan for a worst-case scenario and we will do that.’’

Consistent

He said the Government’s position was consistent with that of the EU task force.

“Specifically, in order for North-South co-operation to function in the future, consistent with the Good Friday Agreement, we need to ensure there is no regulatory divergence on one part of the island versus the other,’’ Mr Coveney added.

“That is a real danger in the context of Brexit.’’

He said Britain being part of the same customs union, whether redesigned or an extended single market, would solve a lot of problems.

“In the absence of Britain, as a whole, doing this, we need some assurance on the island of Ireland that Northern Ireland will be the subject of unique and flexible solutions,’’ he added.