Martin demands hard Brexit contingency plan

The Government should develop and publicly share contingency plans around a hard Brexit, Micheál Martin has said.

The Fianna Fáil leader has hit out at Taoiseach Leo Varadkar for “putting all the eggs into the Barnier basket” and failing to prepare for all scenarios post-Brexit.

“I would prepare publicly and transparently for the different scenarios and I would prepare for a hard Brexit and I wouldn’t be shy of sharing the realities of that with people,” Mr Martin said.

“I was very taken aback by Government to fail to share that with other political leaders because we have acted in good faith with the Government in relation to Brexit,” he added.

The Taoiseach did tell the Dáil last week this Revenue review will be published.

Mr Martin added: “I am a bit taken aback to the degree that the Government have put all the eggs into the Barnier basket. Obviously there is a formal issue about negotiating with the British Government but we do need to be influencing British public opinion, it is already shifting.

“I would already be putting together proposals for State aid packages for businesses that need to diversify and develop new markets, loans and aid under the solidarity framework that Brussels has allowed and there is precedent for this,” he told RTÉ’s The Week in Politics.

Mr Varadkar said over the weekend European leaders are willing to grant a unique solution for Northern Ireland in Brexit negotiations.

In an address to business leaders in Derry, he said EU nations understand peace on the island of Ireland is “young and still fragile”.

Mr Varadkar said there is “huge goodwill for Northern Ireland right across Europe” and a willingness to make exceptions for the country that would not be made for others. “In my contacts with European presidents and prime ministers, I have received considerable support and understanding for the particular challenges we face.

"From Berlin to Brussels, they understand that Northern Ireland is unique, that the peace is young and still fragile, and are willing to make exceptions for Northern Ireland that would not be made for others.”

Mr Varadkar said it is hoped that the ultimate outcome of the negotiations will be the “closest possible trade and customs relationship between the UK and the EU”.

However, he added: “So, if this is ultimately not attainable, then we will seek a unique solution for Northern Ireland, reflecting its unique history and geography. A solution which does not undermine the constitutional settlement in any way, rather one that takes account of the realities on this island and builds on common regulatory approaches, frameworks and systems.”

And with powersharing in the North deadlocked for months, the Taoiseach told the Derry Chamber of Commerce the best way to secure a unique solution for Northern Ireland is “to ask for it”.

Mr Varadkar said there was a willingness to change the rules and create “a flexible solution, a unique solution, one for Northern Ireland, one that may not be available to the rest of the UK or even the rest of Ireland”.

The Taoiseach’s speech came in the wake of Brexit negotiators revealing the talks over the UK’s divorce bill are stuck on phase one with some progress reported on the border and common travel area.


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