Coveney to brief Cabinet on measures for no-deal Brexit
Pessimism rises Euro elections may topple May and lead to hardline Brexiteer as PM
Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney will stress need for Irish businesses to obtain customs numbers to continue trading with the UK in the event of a no-deal Brexit. Photograph: David Young
Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney will brief Cabinet colleagues on ongoing no-deal Brexit preparations on Tuesday, amid growing pessimism in the Government about the prospects for a resolution in Westminster.
Officials said Mr Coveney would bring a memo which will inform a discussion among Ministers on planning for the UK’s EU exit and the general state of play in London.
Behind the scenes contacts with the European Commission on no-deal preparations are continuing, and Mr Coveney will stress the need for Irish businesses to obtain customs numbers in order to allow them to continue trading with the UK in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
The EU’s decision to grant the UK an extension of the Brexit date until the end of October took the pressure off no-deal preparations in Ireland but the Government is likely to renew its efforts to prepare for a UK crashout given the ongoing political uncertainty.
There is growing pessimism in Government circles that the results of the European Parliament elections in the UK could topple Theresa May and lead to the election of a hardline Brexiteer – possibly Boris Johnson – as Conservative leader and prime minister, making a no-deal Brexit likely in October.
Opinion polls show Mrs May’s party is on course for a humiliating defeat in Thursday’s elections, with Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party set to top the polls.
Mrs May has said she will bring the withdrawal agreement that she concluded with the EU last autumn to the House of Commons again for another vote in early June, but few observers expect the proposal to be accepted by MPs at the fourth time of asking.
Mrs May has said she will bring a “new and improved” version of the Brexit deal, though any legislation which did not accord with the terms of the existing withdrawal agreement – including the controversial Northern Ireland backstop – is unlikely to be regarded by the EU as a ratification of the agreement, even if passed.
Officials in Dublin say that both the Taoiseach and Tánaiste will stress again on Tuesday that the withdrawal agreement is not up for renegotiation, but that they are open to further discussions between the EU and the UK on the future relationship declaration, the document which charts the likely shape of a future trade deal.