Time for Commons to ‘figure out what it wants’, McEntee says

MPs need to listen to experts ‘and take that on board when they’re voting,’ Minister says

Helen McEntee said preparations are well under way for Brexit. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Helen McEntee said preparations are well under way for Brexit. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw


Minister of State for European Affairs Helen McEntee says it is time for the House of Commons “to figure out what it wants”.

“We know what they don’t want, we’ve known that for over two years,” she told Newstalk’s Pat Kenny show.

Ms McEntee said that she hopes there will not be contradictory votes in the House of Commons this week. MPs need to listen to their own experts and business groups “and take that on board when they’re voting.”

British prime minister Theresa May’s fragile authority suffered another blow on Monday as three ministers quit to back a Commons amendment enabling MPs to take control of Commons business to stage a series of “indicative votes” on alternatives to her deal.

Ms McEntee said that preparations are well under way for Brexit, but warned that there was only so much that could be done until a definite outcome is known. “It takes time to adapt and change.”

Even if there is an organised Brexit it will still mean changes, she said.

“Even in a best case scenario there will be changes, people will have to adapt.”

This will force businesses to look at their markets and make alternative arrangements rather than be so reliant on one market.

“There’s something positive in that, but not the positive we want.”

While discussions are ongoing about the levels of support that will be made available if necessary, Ms McEntee said that exact figures are not yet known. “It is very clear that support will be there.”

When asked why Ireland had not benefitted more from companies leaving the UK, she pointed out that “Ireland got its share.”

There might be some boost to the economy from such moves, but not enough. “There needs to be a complete restructuring of our economy.

“Either way this is not going to be good for our economy.

“I’m hopeful that we can make this work.”

The Cabinet is likely to discuss Brexit preparations at its meeting on Tuesday morning, while Mr Varadkar is expected to face questions on the subject when the Dáil meets for the first time after the St Patrick’s Day recess.

Senior Government sources have said intensive planning is taking place with the European Commission on how to avoid a hard border in Ireland in the event of a no-deal Brexit. However, the officials remain tight-lipped about how this can be achieved.