Cabinet to agree Brexit package worth 'hundreds of millions of euros', Taoiseach confirms

Cabinet to agree Brexit package worth 'hundreds of millions of euros', Taoiseach confirms
Leo Varadkar at the Chicago St Patrick's Day parade.

Cabinet will next week agree a special Brexit package for hundreds of millions of euros to protect incomes, jobs, and exports, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has confirmed, writes Juno McEnroe in Chicago.

Speaking in Chicago on the second leg of his St Patrick's Day US trip, Mr Varadkar said he hoped British MPs next week would still vote to agree to the Brexit deal. If they did not, Ireland was prepared for a no deal, he insisted.

European Council president Donald Tusk will travel to Dublin on Tuesday where the two will discuss Brexit and a possible request from Britain to extend the March 29 deadline. European leaders will then meet at the end of next week at a Brussels summit and discuss Brexit.

Speaking in Chicago after attending the St Patrick's day parade, Mr Varadkar said:

“On Wednesday at the Cabinet meeting, we will be in a position to sign off on a package of support for business, for farmers, for the agri-food sector, for exporters, for anyone who may be adversely affected by a no-deal Brexit.

“Obviously we are hoping that the deal will be ratified by the House of Commons before then but if it is not we are ready. We have already passed the legislation to provide for a no-deal Brexit.

“We've protected the common travel area and this package will be there to support incomes, to support jobs. It is not going to be a case of everything being alright. Brexit is bad news and a no-deal Brexit would be very bad news.

“But the package of supports that we will put in place is for hundreds of millions of euros and will support and protect incomes and jobs in those most exposed sectors, particularly in the agri-food sector and will also help other businesses and other exporters to be orientated away from the UK markets to other markets. And the country is in a good space to deal with this if we have to.

“We decided to run a budget surplus. We did that so we would have the capacity to borrow if we had to and the NTMA [National Treasury Management Agency] has built up cash reserves if we run into any turbulence on the markets.”

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