Finance minister: Risk of no-deal Brexit is growing

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe has warned that the risks of a no-deal Brexit are growing. Amid continued political chaos in the UK and growing pressure on its prime minister, Theresa May, to resign over the Brexit impasse, Mr Donohoe called on businesses here to make preparations.

In Dublin, he said: “The risks of a no-deal Brexit scenario facing Ireland later on this year are building. I still believe it is still very much possible for an agreement to be reached that protects our national interests and facilitates an orderly exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union.”

He also said that the message needed to go out to businesses that they have to be Brexit-ready and have special customs numbers for trade reasons after October.

The finance minister said:

As we approach Budget 2020, I will be giving careful consideration to the work that needs to be done from a budgetary perspective, to prepare Ireland for the challenges of a disorderly Brexit

Meanwhile, in London, calls by Tory MPs for Ms May to quit as prime minister are growing following Cabinet turmoil there over her Brexit strategy.

Ahead of her showdown with the chairman of the 1922 Committee Graham Brady today, the committee’s treasurer, Geoffrey Clifton Brown, said: “I want her to give a timetable for when she will go.

“I think this blank denial from Number 10 today may be a smokescreen because she does not want to influence the outcome of the European elections. Maybe she will still quit tomorrow.”

Asked what would happen if she did not announce a resignation date, Clifton Brown said: “I think there will be overwhelming pressure for the 22 to change the rules and hold a ballot on confidence in the prime minister.”

Ms May is facing a backlash over her proposals for a so-called bold new Brexit deal for MPs. Andrea Leadsom quit as Commons leader this week, saying she could not announce the bill, which had “new elements that I fundamentally oppose”.

The British government has now pulled plans to publish the new Withdrawal Agreement Bill and instead said it will be released in the first week of June. Canvassing in Cork, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar called on voters to return pro-European candidates with so much uncertainty ahead.

“We don’t know what is going to happen over the next few days in the United Kingdom but we do know that Brexit is going to be very much back centre stage either because of the political changes in London or because of the results of the European elections where it seems the Brexit party is going to win in the United Kingdom,” he said.

Mr Varadkar is also expected to discuss the latest Brexit developments when he meets other EU leaders for an informal summit in Brussels next week.

However, Brussels and Dublin have both said the Brexit deal will not be reopened no matter if there is a change in the British government leadership. Voting in the European elections in the UK began yesterday with speculation that a disastrous result for Ms May’s party could trigger her resignation.

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