Risk of no-deal Brexit ‘beginning to dawn’ on Government - Martin

Government realising threat of no-deal reality ‘late in the day’ says FF leader

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin: ‘I think the Government perhaps thought that they’d have a deal earlier, I think they thought it’d be locked up before Christmas.’ Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin: ‘I think the Government perhaps thought that they’d have a deal earlier, I think they thought it’d be locked up before Christmas.’ Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

 

The real risk of a chaotic no-deal Brexit is now “beginning to dawn” on the Government, Opposition leader Micheál Martin said on Friday.

Britain is due to leave the European Union in 35 days, on 29th March, with London and Brussels in a stalemate over a deal to manage the withdrawal.

Negotiations are stalled as the House of Commons has rejected the terms of the Irish backstop, in the deal agreed between Theresa May’s Government and the EU negotiating team.

The backstop is a fallback commitment that there would be no return to a hard border on the island of Ireland after Britain leaves the EU, irrespective of the terms of any deal on the UK and EU future relationship.

“I think it’s began to dawn that the prospect of a no deal is a very real one, a bit late in the day,” Mr Martin said.

“The Government had a view for quite a long time that we wouldn’t be where we are now,” Mr Martin said. “I think the Government perhaps thought that they’d have a deal earlier, I think they thought it’d be locked up before Christmas, in the autumn period,” he said.

‘Hot air’

The Fianna Fáil leader was speaking ahead of his party’s Ard Fheis, to be held on Saturday in Citywest, Dublin.

The threat of a no deal Brexit, bringing with it trade disruption, would be “Armageddon” for the Irish beef and agricultural industry, Mr Martin said.

“There’s a lot of hot air out there from some quarters about preparing for Brexit, and being ready for Brexit,” from parties such as Sinn Féin, he said. However, calls from the same parties for Fianna Fáil to collapse the confidence and supply arrangement with the Government, would create a “chaotic” political situation.

Earlier, the Government published legislation to prepare for a no deal Brexit, which Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney said he hoped would “sit on the shelf.”

The landmark legislation, running to 70 pages is aimed at protecting Irish citizens, supporting businesses and jobs, and securing continued access to essential services and products.

The supports in the legislation range from ensuring continued reciprocal healthcare for Irish and UK citizens and education grants for Irish and British students to financial supports for companies and new extradition rules.