Supermarket shelves will not be empty if no-deal Brexit, Tánaiste says

French ‘unbelievably helpful’, will have separate lane for Irish trucks from UK at Calais

Tánaiste Simon Coveney said the French ‘have committed to ensuring a separate lane in Calais for Irish trucks coming off ships from Dover’. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Irish supermarket shelves will not be empty in the event of a no-deal Brexit, Tánaiste Simon Coveney has told the Dáil.

His remarks came as Taoiseach Leo Varadkar earlier warned that it would be a case of "damage limitation" to protect the Irish economy and there might be some businesses and jobs that cannot be saved if there is no deal.

As the Brexit question loomed large in the Dáil on Tuesday, Mr Coveney said the French had been “unbelievably helpful” in relation to Irish trucks going to Calais via the UK landbridge.

They "have committed to ensuring a separate lane in Calais for Irish trucks coming off ships from Dover", he told Fianna Fáil Brexit spokeswoman Lisa Chambers who raised the issue.


They would be treated differently because Irish products will be coming from the single market going to the single market using the UK as a landbridge, as opposed to product from the UK which will be a third country.

“We’d like to get the same facilitation in other European ports and we’re making some good products in that.”

But “I don’t expect the same facilitation on the UK side at Dover because there will be very long queues. I certainly don’t expect Irish trucks will be able to skip those queues.”

Ms Chambers asked about the issue of shortages of products on shelves given that trucks going through the UK would now take longer.

Mr Coveney told her: “The information I have is that we’re not going to have empty shelves in our supermarkets.

“We may need to change supply chains. We may need to change suppliers for certain products. Some brands may be different in the future but certainly retailers are confident that they will be able to continue to fill shelf space even in a no deal scenario.”

But Mr Varadkar warned of the likelihood that some businesses and jobs could not be saved if there was no deal.

Mr Varadkar told the Dáil “I need to be honest with people”. He said “if we end up in a no-deal scenario it will be damage limitation and there may be some jobs that can’t be saved and some businesses that regrettably can’t be saved”.

But he told Labour leader Brendan Howlin there would be a substantial package in the Budget to support vulnerable businesses. Most funding would come from the Government with some from the EU.

The “prudent thing to do is to prepare the Budget with a pessimistic scenario” and the details would be released in three weeks’ time on Budget day when everything would be finalised.

Mr Howlin said the British government had been forced to publish its report, dubbed Yellowhammer, on the likely effects of no-deal and he said it was time for the Government to publish its own document on the implications for every sector if there is no deal.

The Government did not have any Yellowhammer document similar to Britain’s. Mr Varadkar said the Government has already produced all that information in the summer economic statement and the Brexit contingency plan published in July.

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran is Parliamentary Correspondent of The Irish Times