'No one will go hungry': Month of March set aside for Dáil to deal with hard Brexit legislation

'No one will go hungry': Month of March set aside for Dáil to deal with hard Brexit legislation

Update 4:10pm: Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has vowed that “no one will go hungry” in the event of a no deal Brexit as he also insisted the country was “very well prepared” for any economic downturn.

Speaking after the first Cabinet meeting of the New Year, Mr Varadkar said 45 pieces of special legislation for would be held off passing through the Dail until March if it looked like Britain would crash out of the EU.

Contingency plans for a no deal were discussed by Mr Varadkar and his ministers today, including the stockpiling of medicines.

He also reiterated that the backstop proposal preventing a hard border with the North was still a “red line” issue for Ireland.

With just weeks to go before Westminster votes on the Withdrawal Agreement for Brexit, Mr Varadkar again asked Britain what kind of guarantees the country and its politicians wanted in order for the deal to get through the British parliament.

But he reiterated that any guarantees or addition to the agreement could not take away from the "spirit" of it, particularly the guarantee there would be no return to a hard border in the event of a no deal.

Ministers discussed some stockpiling measures today, which will include plans to take in and store extra medicines. But food in general and fuel would not need to be stockpiled, said Mr Varadkar.

The only food types that might may be could packaged items, he said, singling out Marks and Spencer products.

No one would go hungry, he pledged as he outlined the Cabinet meeting to reporters this afternoon.

Cabinet also agreed to a joint strategy with the Bar Council and Law Society of Ireland to "flesh out" a plan to make Ireland a centre for legal services when Britain leaves the EU. Already, there has been in an increase in lawyers registering in Ireland ahead of Brexit.

Separately, Mr Varadkar outlined the end of year exchequer results which show Ireland had €100m in budget surplus for 2018.

This was the first time spending was ahead of schedule for a decade, he said.

While the healthy financial position for the government was partially as a result of exceptional corporate tax returns, Mr Varadkar said the country was now "very well prepared" for any potential economic downturn if one hit Ireland.

'No one will go hungry': Month of March set aside for Dáil to deal with hard Brexit legislation

Earlier (3:27pm): The month of March is to be set aside in the Dáil to deal with legislation for a hard Brexit.

Ministers met for three hours earlier to discuss Ireland's preparedness if the UK crashes out of the EU without a deal.

Around 45 pieces of legislation will be reduced to four primary pieces of legislation which will go before the Oireachtas in March, ahead of the Brexit deadline.

The cabinet also discussed stockpiling medicines, working with wholesalers and buying land near ports and airports to be ready for a no-deal situation.

It's also hoped Ireland could take some legal services from the UK.

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