Fianna Fáil: Varadkar playing ‘catch up’ on Brexit

By Fiachra Ó Cionnaith and Juno McEnroe

Fianna Fáil has warned Taoiseach Leo Varadkar he risks playing “catch up” on the Brexit crisis after it emerged the Government has only now started stockpiling drugs in case of a no-deal hard Brexit situation.

Fianna Fáil Brexit spokeswoman Lisa Chambers raised the concern after the Irish Examiner revealed yesterday the Government is preparing “contingency plans” to ensure Ireland is still able to access medications if no deal is struck.

Speaking as a new poll claimed that three out of every four people in Britain believe that their government is failing to negotiate a Brexit deal that will not damage them and Ireland, Ms Chambers said the drugs access confirmation is “concerning”.

She said the contingency plans are “the right thing to do”, but claimed the Fianna Fáil TD said the Government must use the situation as a wake-up call to put in place concrete plans on how to cope with a worst-case scenario no-deal Brexit.

It’s concerning that we are at a stage where we need to make these provisions in order to have security of supply for medicines in this country in the event of a hard Brexit,” said Ms Chambers.

“It is absolutely the right thing to do to prepare for what is still hopefully an unlikely outcome of a no-deal scenario from the Brexit negotiations. My concern is that Leo should have started preparations a long time ago and we are now playing catch up with very little time remaining.”

“I am also concerned that the Taoiseach is continuing to downplay the true state of the Brexit negotiations to our citizens rather than being honest and preparing our nation for all possible outcomes. The Government line that ‘everything will be all right on the night’ has not really changed in the past two years and it is not serving anyone.”

The comment came as a new poll in Britain claimed three out of every four British citizens believe their prime minister, Theresa May, and her government are failing to negotiate a fair Brexit deal.

The 78% no-confidence poll result on Sky News is up 23 points on the previous vote in March, while the number of people who believe Ms May’s government is doing a good job on the key issue has slumped from 23% to just 10%.

Mr Varadkar yesterday said the Government is continuing to “work towards an agreement”.

Meanwhile, Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald has said that a poll on a united Ireland should not be held while uncertainty around Brexit remains.

The obvious thing would be to say ‘well have the border poll and remove the border, if the border is the problem, simply take it away’ and there is a certain logic to that,” said Ms McDonald.

“I am very, very conscious that you can’t come at this issue in that simplistic way.

“It’s very important when we come to addressing the issue of partition we do it in the best possible climate and we do it in a way that maximises consent.

“It is not my preferred option or our preferred option that we deal with the issue of Irish unity in a climate that is unsteady or unstable or chaotic, in other words in the context of a crash Brexit or a very hard Brexit.”

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