Simon Coveney: EU 'will not tolerate' prospect of a crash-out Brexit at 24-hour's notice

Simon Coveney: EU 'will not tolerate' prospect of a crash-out Brexit at 24-hour's notice

Simon Coveney: "There'll be huge pressure now this week on the negotiating teams to try to close this out, and I would say a lot of impatience coming from both Brussels and London, to make sure that happens." File Picture: Julien Behal

A Brexit deal must be hammered out in the coming days as the EU will not tolerate the prospect of a crash-out Brexit at 24-hour's notice, Simon Coveney has warned.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs has said Brexit has reignited old divisions which has resulted in "threats" from the UK, adding that reports around navy ships patrolling British waters have been "very unhelpful".

Brexit talks are to continue past today's deadline after the EU Commission president said earlier this morning that both sides were willing to "go the extra mile.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen spoke over the phone and have agreed to continue with Brexit negotiations.

But Mr Coveney said "This is really a matter of days now, because if this is to fail, we can't allow failure to happen with 24 hours to go before a cliff edge."

He said the Government has been planning for a no-deal scenario for more than 12 months but "it will still be much more disruptive than otherwise is necessary if there isn't a trade deal here, and a future relationship agreement".

"That's what we're trying to avoid, but we certainly don't want to see that announcement 24 hours before it actually happens. 

"There'll be huge pressure now this week on the negotiating teams to try to close this out, and I would say a lot of impatience coming from both Brussels and London, to make sure that happens," Mr Coveney told RTÉ's This Week programme.

Even if UK and EU negotiators manage to hammer out a deal in the coming days, any agreement would still need to be approved in both London and Brussels.

Screengrab taken from the European Commission of European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen issuing a statement after speaking by telephone with Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Talks on a post-Brexit trade deal will continue, Boris Johnson has agreed with European Union chiefs. Picture: European Commission/PA Wire
Screengrab taken from the European Commission of European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen issuing a statement after speaking by telephone with Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Talks on a post-Brexit trade deal will continue, Boris Johnson has agreed with European Union chiefs. Picture: European Commission/PA Wire

Any agreement would first need to be turned into legal text and translated into 23 EU languages before being signed off on by the European Council and the European Parliament. 

It would also have to get through the UK Houses of Parliament.

Asked about the possibility of a scheme for food exporters in the case of a no-deal, Mr Coveney said the government "won't be found wanting" in terms of supporting vulnerable sectors.

"If we don't have a trade agreement the agri-food industry will be one of the areas hardest hit because we sell €5.5bn worth of food and drink to the UK each year. 

"If there are tariffs on that trade we could be paying tariffs of up to €1.5bn, which would be hugely disruptive and damaging for that market."

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