Government 'woefully unprepared' for no-deal Brexit, claims Fianna Fáil TD

Government 'woefully unprepared' for no-deal Brexit, claims Fianna Fáil TD

Fianna Fáil’s Brexit spokesperson, Lisa Chambers has accused the Irish government of not doing enough in its preparations for the possibility of a no-deal Brexit.

The Mayo TD told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland that leaked details in the UK of food, fuel and medicine shortages were a cause for concern.

"There is an element of let's wait and see in the Government's plans. They're burying their head in the sand with their fingers crossed behind their back.

"I believe we're woefully unprepared and citizens are not getting the information they need."

Published by the Sunday Times, the leaked “Operation Yellowhammer” documents warn that Britain will be hit with a three-month “meltdown” at its ports, a hard Irish border and shortages of food and medicine if the UK leaves without an agreement.

A senior Whitehall source told the paper: “This is not Project Fear, this is the most realistic assessment of what the public face with no deal. These are likely, basic, reasonable scenarios – not the worst case.”

According to the documents, petrol import tariffs would “inadvertently” lead to the closure of two oil refineries, while protests across the UK could “require significant amounts of police resources” in a no-deal scenario.

However, Michael Gove - the UK Cabinet minister responsible for no-deal planning - insisted Yellowhammer represented a “worst-case scenario” and said “significant” steps have been taken in the last three weeks to accelerate Brexit planning.

Government 'woefully unprepared' for no-deal Brexit, claims Fianna Fáil TD

Meanwhile, Minister of State for Public Procurement, Open Government and eGovernment Patrick O’Donovan has warned that a no-deal Brexit is not going to be good for either the UK or Ireland.

Even if contingency plans are in place there was never going to be a seamless transition, he told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland.

“We are looking at scenarios that protect Northern Ireland’s economy and the Good Friday Agreement. This is about protecting the peace process.”

The Irish government is working with the European Commission on ways to cope with a no-deal Brexit and the prospect of physical infrastructures, he added.

Some people who might attempt to take advantage of such a situation “haven’t gone away” and there was a danger they could attempt “some warped campaign.”

The UK government is a co-guarantor of the Good Friday Agreement and as such have a responsibility to protect it, he added.

When asked about freedom of movement for EU citizens in the UK after 31 October, Mr O’Donovan pointed out that the Common Travel Area agreement between Ireland and the UK predates membership of the EU and therefore was still in place.

However, a seamless transition is “absolutely critical” he said.

There cannot be physical infrastructures along the border, “the day that they appear is the end of the peace process.

The people on the border are the ones with the most to lose. “We have to make sure that Northern Ireland is protected. Peace trumps everything.”

- additional reporting by Press Association

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