Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe has said the relationship between the UK and Ireland would “fundamentally change” in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
Mr Donohoe was speaking in the Irish Embassy in London after a meeting with British Chancellor Sajid Javid about the UK government’s plans for exiting the EU.
Mr Donohoe said:
“Were that to happen – which it would in the event of a no-deal Brexit – it would fundamentally change the relationship that is there.”
Mr Donohoe added: “The Chancellor affirmed what Prime Minister Johnson had said in relation to the Withdrawal Agreement and in relation to the view that the backstop cannot form part of that Withdrawal Agreement.
“I also had, therefore, to explain to why I believe the ratification of the backstop was the best possible guarantee to ensuring that we do not have a return to a hard border on the island of Ireland.”
The Finance Minister said he believed “the prospect of a no-deal Brexit is growing”.
He added: “I believe that the consequences of that are well understood by us in Ireland and this is the reason why over the last number of weeks we have published our latest contingency plan which has laid out all of the different consequences that a no-deal Brexit could cause and all of the actions we will take, and are taking, to deal with those issues.”
Asked when the Government will announce where checks on goods travelling across the border would take place in the event of a no-deal Brexit, Mr Donohoe said the Government is “engaging with the European Commission” on the issue.
He added: “From our point of view we are determined to ensure that our position within the single market is not affected by this.
“We are engaging with the Commission directly on that and other matters at the moment.”
On the question of whether London would offer a financial package to the Government to help resolve any border issues, Mr Donohoe said he would “prefer not to go into the detail” of any financial discussions.
He added: “He (Javid) laid out his thoughts regarding how a no-deal Brexit could be avoided and also different options that could be dealt with and could be looked at to avoid the development of infrastructure on the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.
“I explained to him why we have already explored many of these different options, why we believe they won’t work and why we believe that an alignment of standards and regulations between Northern Ireland and Ireland is the best insurance policy for dealing with the risk of avoiding a hard border developing.”