Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said farmers and other businesses will not “wake up to a big surprise” over checks at the UK border in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
Mr Varadkar has moved to quell concern after he and Tánaiste Simon Coveney said checks would have to be put in place if the UK crashes out of the EU on October 31 without a Brexit deal.
He said he does not know how close to the border such checks would have to be.
“We are working that out, but one thing I can assure businesses is they are not going to wake up one morning to a big surprise,” he said.
There will be a lead-in time, and they will have plenty of time to prepare and plenty of information about any changes that will take place.
“If no deal happens, we are determined to make sure that Ireland doesn’t get dragged out of the single market.”
Mr Varadkar was speaking as it emerged that the EU will seek to take a “gradual approach” to the application of a border rather than demanding it to be fully operable from day one.
Despite the Northern border being the frontier of the EU single market, there is, according to EU sources, an understanding that, at the start, Ireland will not fully be in compliance with the obligations that come when a member state shares a border with a third country.
For a limited time period after Britain leaves the EU, the EU looks set to adopt a ‘partnership’ role. Sources say this would grant Irish authorities space to apply the rules of the single market “as best it can”.
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin called on the Government to “be absolutely honest” on its no-deal Brexit plans and to spell out more about goods checks near the border.
Mr Martin questioned if ministers were hiding the truth after differing reports about Cabinet this week.
“I don’t know what the detail of the discussions with the EU have been about,” he said. “I’m calling on the Government to be upfront and publish that.
“The document presented by Tánaiste Simon Coveney to the Cabinet should be published. One minister was quoted as saying: ‘It is time we levelled with the people. It is far worse than we expected.’
"Apparently ministers were taken aback by the severity of what was said [by Mr Coveney].”
Mr Martin also launched an attack on Boris Johnson and Brexiteers ahead of the British prime minister’s visit to Dublin next week.
“The fanatical Brexiteers could not care less about the impact of their crusade on ordinary people,” he said.
Meanwhile, Labour leader Brendan Howlin has said that Mr Varadkar should call a snap general election if the UK goes to the polls. Mr Howlin also signalled that his party, while not engaging in any pre-election pacts, may work with the next government on “the outside” in a confidence and supply-type agreement.
However, any deal would be based on ‘red lines’ for Labour, including a major public housing programme, income equality commitments, and free GP care among issues, he said.
In an interview with the Irish Examiner ahead of Labour’s pre-Dáil party meeting in Cork this weekend, Mr Howlin said why a fresh general election in the UK should trigger one here.
“Contingent on a general election happening in Britain and an application being accepted to extend Article 50 until January 1, which is what is in the [House of Commons] bill, then we would have a very clear path to a general election here, have it done and dusted in November and well before January 1 when Article 50 would come into being,” said Mr Howlin.
“That would be a possibility indeed.”
Yesterday, Britain’s House of Lords approved a bill that aims to block a no-deal Brexit at the end of October by forcing Mr Johnson to seek a delay. The legislation is expected to be signed into law by Queen Elizabeth II on Monday.