No-deal Brexit a very real possibility, warns Ireland’s deputy premier

Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney speaks to the media on College Green in Westminster, Lo

Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney speaks to the media on College Green in Westminster, London - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Ireland's deputy premier has said a no-deal Brexit is a very real possibility.

Simon Coveney said Ireland had intensified its no-deal contingency planning with the EU Commission but checks at EU ports on Irish products were not a runner.

'I agree with Michel Barnier and others when they say that, when the days pass, a no-deal Brexit looks like a very real possibility,' Coveney told the Dail.

But the Tanaiste said Ireland was not going to allow a situation where the UK leaving the EU without a deal 'drags Ireland out of the single market with it'.

'Checks in EU ports on all Irish products - that is not a runner, and will cause significant damage to our economy, so we will not allow it,' he said.

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Coveney said Ireland and the EU Commission were trying to work out how best to respond to a no-deal scenario to ensure the Good Friday Agreement was protected, but also that physical infrastructure on the border was avoided.

He said the cabinet would meet this evening to discuss Brexit once the Taoiseach returned from his meeting with French president Emmanuel Macron in Paris.

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Leo Varadkar held Brexit talks with Macron this afternoon as efforts intensify to find a solution to the current impasse, while German chancellor Angela Merkel is due to meet Varadkar in Dublin on Thursday to discuss no-deal preparations.

Fianna Fail deputy leader Dara Calleary said parliament needed to see details of the plan.

'Hope is no longer a strategy. You've hoped for a long. long time but it seems by accident we're going for a hard Brexit,' he said.

When pressed by the Mayo TD to give details of the Irish Government's plan for the border in the event of the UK crashing out of the EU, the Tanaiste replied: 'The government isn't hiding anything from anyone.

'There isn't a plan. What we are doing is working out a plan with the EU Commission.'

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