No-deal Brexit would ‘fundamentally change’ Anglo-Irish relations

Paschal Donohoe meets chancellor Sajid Javid to discuss UK’s plans for leaving EU

British chancellor of the exchequer Sajid Javid (L) and Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe are pictured on Downing Street in London on Tuesday. Photograph: Will Oliver/EPA.

British chancellor of the exchequer Sajid Javid (L) and Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe are pictured on Downing Street in London on Tuesday. Photograph: Will Oliver/EPA.

 

The relationship between the UK and Ireland would “fundamentally change” in the event of a no-deal Brexit, Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe has said.

Mr Donohoe was speaking in the Irish Embassy in London after a meeting with chancellor of the exchequer Sajid Javid about the UK government’s plans for exiting the EU.

“If the United Kingdom became a third country it would have a fundamental effect on the nature of the economic relationship between the United Kingdom and Ireland because obviously, they would be outside the single market, they would be outside the customs unions and they would be treated like other countries that are outside of the European Union from a trading point of view,” he said.

“Were that to happen – which it would in the event of a no-deal Brexit – it would fundamentally change the relationship that is there.”

The Minister said Mr Javid had affirmed what prime minister Boris Johnson said in relation to the withdrawal agreement reached between the EU and UK, which has been voted down by MPs on three occasions, and in relation to the view that the Northern Ireland backstop, which seeks to avoid a hard Border, cannot form part of that agreement.

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“I also had, therefore, to explain why I believe the ratification of the backstop was the best possible guarantee to ensuring that we do not have a return to a hard border on the island of Ireland.”

‘Growing’

Mr Donohoe also said he believed “the prospect of a no-deal Brexit is growing”.

“I believe that the consequences of that are well understood by us in Ireland and this is the reason why over the last number of weeks we have published our latest contingency plan which has laid out all of the different consequences that a no-deal Brexit could cause and all of the actions we will take, and are taking, to deal with those issues.”

Asked when the Government will announce where checks on goods travelling between the State and North would take place in the event of a no-deal Brexit, Mr Donohoe said Dublin is “engaging with the European Commission” on the issue.

“From our point of view, we are determined to ensure that our position within the single market is not affected by this,” he said. “Our membership of the single market is an essential element of our economic model and we will not allow it to be affected by a decision taken by the United Kingdom and its people — which we respect — to leave the European Union.

“We are engaging with the commission directly on that and other matters at the moment.”

Financial discussions

On the question of whether London would offer a financial package to the Government to help resolve any Border issues, Mr Donohoe said he would “prefer not to go into the detail” of any financial discussions.

“He (Mr Javid) laid out his thoughts regarding how a no-deal Brexit could be avoided and also different options that could be dealt with and could be looked at to avoid the development of infrastructure on the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland,” he said.

“I explained to him why we have already explored many of these different options, why we believe they won’t work and why we believe that an alignment of standards and regulations between Northern Ireland and Ireland is the best insurance policy for dealing with the risk of avoiding a hard border developing.” – PA