Ireland is stepping up preparations to deal with the legal and financial consequences of a no-deal UK exit from the EU, finance minister Paschal Donohoe confirmed on Tuesday.
Donohoe echoed the view of Irish deputy prime minister Simon Coveney, who noted on Tuesday that the prospect of a no-deal UK exit from the EU on October 31st was “for real” and will “fundamentally disrupt the free movement of goods in a seamless way as we enjoy today.”
For the Irish government, peace and security are the primary concerns but the threat of economic disruption is a close second.
Ireland wants to protect the 1998 Good Friday peace pact, fearing that border installations will create targets for dissident Irish republican paramilitaries. Mr Coveney said on Tuesday that checks on animals and food would not take place on the border itself or close to it but he would not say whether such checks would be carried out in factories or farms.
The Irish government still hopes that a form of the so-called “backstop clause” may still be implemented, maintaining frictionless trade between the Republic and Northern Ireland. That is now increasingly unlikely as both Boris Johnson and his rival for the leadership of the Conservative Party, Jeremy Hunt, insist that the UK will leave the bloc with no deal on October 31 if they do not get rid of the backstop. In sum, there is little scope for a compromise.
It is estimated that 85,000 Irish jobs jobs are under threat in a no-deal scenario, while the Republic’s economic growth would come to a standstill.
Disruption will be severe across the board.
The Minister of State for European Affairs Helen McEntee warned on Wednesday that a no-deal Brexit could also result in higher taxes for online shoppers and difficulties in returning goods, as the UK would no longer be subject to the same consumer rights and protections as all EU member states.