Ireland's Tanaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney. -Reuters
Ireland will step up its preparations for a disorderly Brexit this week given the chances of Britain leaving the European Union without a deal have never been higher, foreign minister Simon Coveney said on Monday.
With close trade links and a shared land border, Ireland is considered the most vulnerable among remaining EU members to Brexit and lawmakers passed one of the largest-ever pieces of legislation in March to prepare as best it could for a no deal.
Keeping Irish border open in no-deal Brexit difficult but possible, PM says Coveney said the updated contingency plan will refine and improve on the actions already in place for March 29 and April 12, the original Brexit deadlines before Britain was given an extension until the end of October.
"One of the biggest dangers Ireland faces in the weeks ahead is the 'boy who cried wolf' effect, whereby people and business assume that because a disorderly Brexit was averted in March and April the same will happen in October. To assume this would be a serious error," Coveney wrote in the Irish Times."The chances of a disorderly Brexit have never been higher and the Government now considers the risk of this outcome on October 31st as 'significant'."
How to manage the land border between EU-member Ireland and British-run Northern Ireland including an emergency "backstop" solution to prevent the return of extensive controls remains the most contentious element of the divorce deal the contenders to become the next British prime minister want renegotiated.
Coveney reiterated that the backstop is an integral part of the deal and said the government had in recent weeks observed and listened to some inaccurate utterances about Ireland, the EU and the backstop.
"Of course people can have their own opinions, but they cannot have their own facts," he wrote.Just as it did prior to the initial Brexit deadline, Ireland will likely come under pressure from fellow EU member states to detail how it would achieve its aim of keeping the 500 km border with Northern Ireland open even in a no-deal Brexit while also remaining a fully compliant member of the EU's single market.
All Coveney said on Monday was that no-deal planning work with the European Commission on that would continue in the weeks ahead "to achieve the shared twin goals of preventing a hard Border while also protecting the EU's single market."
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