Contingency plans for ‘no-deal’ Brexit

Enhanced contingency plans to allow Irish ports and airports to deal with a ‘no-deal’ Brexit are to be brought to Cabinet by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, it has emerged.

Jean-Claude Juncker, wearing a scarf from the Belgian national team, gets the thumbs up from Belgian leader Charles Michel.

Mr Varadkar is to table the latest plans in the next 10 days to deal with a no deal Brexit, but Government sources have insisted these do not include planning for a hard border with the North.

Every department has been asked to look at what would be needed and these worse case scenario plans, the sources said, are primarily dealing with a border along the Irish Sea.

The Government insisted these preparations are “east-west” as opposed to “north-south”, but the Irish Examiner understands all scenarios are being planned for.

Mr Varadkar and British prime minister Theresa May held a 30-minute meeting on the fringes of the EU Council summit in Brussels, during which the Taoiseach outlined his disappointment at the lack of progress on the Irish backstop.

“We did expect that we would make more progress, or any progress really,” he said. “We expected there would be progress at this summit in June, like there was in March, like there was in December. There hasn’t been. We all need to intensify our efforts now. There can be no withdrawal agreement without an agreement on the Irish backstop.”

It is likely that a series of talks between the EU and Britain will occur during the summer and into September in a bid to try and resolve the Irish issue ahead of October’s deadline.

Already. the leaders have agreed to convene a meeting of the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference, in a bid to restart the Stormont administration. It will take place on July 25.

EC president Jean Claude Juncker called on Mrs May to make her position clear.

“As far as Ireland is concerned, I would like them to give a final, definite response to the Irish border problem,” he said. “I wouldn’t like us to be in a situation where the last remaining problem would be the Irish one.”

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