The Government and the EU are working on ways to avoid border checks after a leaked document revealed the UK has accepted there will be hard border if they crash out of Europe.
The British government now believes a hard border between Ireland and the North is likely, as current plans to avoid widespread checks will prove unsustainable.
Reacting to the report, which also warns of protests and road blockages in the case of a no-deal Brexit, Government sources stressed that there is already a deal on the table which would avoid a hard border.
“These papers yet again underline the need for a managed Brexit, including the backstop insurance policy as set out in the withdrawal agreement,” said a source.
“Our teams are working with the European Commission on the twin objective of avoiding checks at the border and maintaining Ireland’s place in our EU single market. However any solution that is found will be far inferior to the backstop and the all island economy is going to be badly hit.”
Fianna Fáil’s Brexit spokeswoman Lisa Chambers said the report should act as a “wake-up call” and called on the Government to step up no-deal preparations.
The British dossier, called Operation Yellowhammer, warns that 85% of lorries using the main Channel crossings could face delays of up to two and a half days.
Medical supplies will be subject to “severe extended delays”, with border delays disrupting the distribution of fuel to London and southern England.
Ms Chambers said:
“Given the makeup of the North’s economy, structured around the SME and agri-food sector, and the very tight supply chains linking North-South and East-West the effects of a no deal Brexit would be severe and damaging.”
Sinn Féin deputy leader Michelle O’Neill said the report came as “no surprise”, as it is now clear that the threat of a no-deal Brexit is a growing reality.
She said: “The consequences of a no-deal Brexit will result in a hard border, which threatens our hard-won peace and undermines the political and economic progress of the past 21 years enjoyed across the whole island, but particularly in border communities which have been transformed.”
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and British prime minister Boris Johnson are due to talk by phone later this week ahead of the G7 summit. A spokesperson for the Taoiseach said this would provide another opportunity for them to better understand their respective positions.