No-deal Brexit would be 'catastrophic outcome', says Lisa Chambers

Latest: Following this afternoon's rejection of Theresa May's Withdrawal Agreement, Fianna Fáil's Brexit spokesperson Lisa Chambers believes that a no-deal Brexit is "a distinct possibility".

Deputy Chambers called the outcome of the vote deeply regretful and warned that the clock is ticking as there is just two weeks until a potential crash out by the UK.

"If this were to unfold it would have grave consequences for our country and likely decimate a number of industries, in particular, the agri-food and fishing sectors," said Ms Chambers.

Intensive efforts must, therefore, continue to avoid such a catastrophic outcome.

The Fianna Fáil TD said that the government must provide clarity for the general public on what a no-deal outcome would mean for the country.

"Specific details regarding the financial aid package that will be made available, firm commitment that a hard border will be avoided in such a crisis scenario and clarification on the prospect of a land-bridge."

Ms Chambers warned that the government "cannot afford to row back on the commitments contained in the Withdrawal Agreement".

- additional reporting by Digital Desk

Taoiseach says Ireland must support long extension of Brexit deadline

Update 4.15pm: Ireland must support a long extension of the Brexit deadline if the UK significantly shifts its approach to leaving the EU, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar says.

His statement comes following another humiliating defeat today for British prime minister Theresa May and her Brexit Withdrawal Deal in Westminster.

Her third attempt to squeeze through a deal was defeated by 58 votes. This was despite separating out the future UK-EU relationship and that it was not a meaningful vote.

After another dramatic day in London, there is now much speculation of a snap UK general election or a fresh referendum on Brexit. Mrs May is also facing multiple calls to resign immediately.

In the wake of the 344 to 286 MP vote against the deal, the EU have announced an emergency leaders summit to be held on April 10 to decide the next step on the UK's position.

In a statement this afternoon, Mr Varadkar signalled that the UK still needed to recognise that a no-deal was now a possibility. He stated:

“The Government notes the decision of the House of Commons to reject the indicative Withdrawal Agreement. It is now up to the UK to indicate how it plans to proceed in order to avoid a No Deal scenario.

“The European Council has agreed unanimously that the Withdrawal Agreement will not be re-opened.

Ireland has been preparing intensively for a No Deal scenario. But no one should under-estimate the difficulties that a No Deal will present, for all of us, including the UK. It is not clear that the UK has fully understood that No Deal is not off the agenda. Rather, it’s a growing possibility.

With growing calls for an election in the UK and further Westminster votes scheduled next week, including on a second vote and a soft Brexit, attention will also turn to EU member states and whether an extension could actually be granted to London. This will likely be decided on April 10 at the EU summit-just two days before thew Brexit deadline.

Mr Varadkar added: “We welcome the decision of President Donald Tusk to call a European Council meeting. I will have the opportunity to meet one-to-one with President Macron and Chancellor Merkel before that. I will also speak to other Heads of Government by phone. It is now incumbent on the UK to chart a realistic way forward for consideration at that Council meeting.

“I believe we must be open to a long extension should the United Kingdom decide to fundamentally reconsider its approach to Brexit and put back on the table options previously ruled out. I believe that will result in a generous and understanding response from the 27.”

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