Dublin ready to '˜change gear' in preparation for Brexit

Ireland's premier Leo Varadkar has said his government will have to 'change gear' in how it deals with Brexit.

Wednesday, 18th July 2018, 7:47 pm
Updated Wednesday, 18th July 2018, 8:48 pm
Leo Varadkar speaks to the media after his cabinet's 'away day' at Derrynane House, Co Kerry

The taoiseach said it will be an “enormous challenge” dealing with the change in trade between Ireland and Britain.

The Irish cabinet has been discussing ways to step up preparations for a hard Brexit.

As part of this, the Irish government plans to hire 1,000 customs officers and veterinary inspectors at its ports and airports over the next year.

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Mr Varadkar said that with Brexit eight months away, growing uncertainty looms over whether it will be possible to get a withdrawal agreement through Westminster.

“We need to change the gear and up our preparations when it comes to Brexit,” he said.

Mr Varadkar said this involves communicating with the public and preparing ports and airports.

He said: “We are preparing for a change in the rules of trade between Britain and Ireland in January 2021.

“In the unlikely event of a no-deal hard Brexit next March, of course it won’t be possible to have 1,000 people in place by then but we will make contingency arrangements to do whatever needs to be done in the unlikely event that should arise.”

In a special Brexit meeting at Derrynane House in Co Kerry, Mr Varadkar and his ministers thrashed out Brexit plans at the ancestral home of Irish political leader Daniel O’Connell.

During the cabinet away day, ministers discussed Brexit contingency plans to prepare for a hard Brexit.

Derrynane House, which is now a museum dedicated to the life of the famous politician who was instrumental in fighting for the rights of Irish people in the late 18th century, was selected as the picturesque location for the round-table talks on mounting Brexit issues.

A number of controversial amendments were passed by the UK government earlier this week.

One amendment has made it unlawful for Northern Ireland to form a separate customs union from the rest of the UK.

This goes against the EU’s backstop proposal which would see Northern Ireland treated as part of the EU customs union.