No-deal Brexit ‘more likely today than it was yesterday’…

The UK will have to make up its mind – and fast – if it is to avoid a no-deal Brexit, according to the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Michael Creed.

Speaking on tonight’s episode of FarmLand, Minister Creed outlined his thoughts on the current situation to presenter Claire Mc Cormack, and stressed the need to stick with what’s been put on the table – particularly regarding the Northern Irish border.

Asked on the possibility of a no-deal scenario, the minister said: “Well I don’t believe there is a majority in the House of Commons for a no deal.

“But, it is in many ways the default position because they have to take steps to avoid a crash-out.

“Obviously, we have the council later this week; we will have the heads of state meeting there whereas we are anxious to facilitate the passage of the withdrawal treaty in the House of Commons.

We cannot do so in any way that dilutes the provisions of the withdrawal agreement or in particular the issues around the no hard border.

Minister Creed noted UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s own comments on the border question, where she recognised the need for the provision of text for no hard border.

Apart from the border, the rest of the treaty addresses the UK’s exit, “untangling a web of 45 years in the making” with important issues such as leaving the EU, single market, customs union and jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice addressed, according to the minister.

“You cannot have it any other way except what’s in the texts of the withdrawal treaty.

He added: “We want all of that dealt with in the context of the future trading relationship, and we want that to be as close as possible.

“But to get to a stage where we’re talking about that we have to first of all clear the hurdle sequentially of approving the withdrawal treaty – and that’s where we’re at.”

The minister said that talk from certain quarters of a border poll and a united Ireland is “entirely unhelpful”.

“What we are trying to do is to reach out, create an understanding with all parties in Northern Ireland, bearing in mind that the DUP does not speak for a majority.

“But it is obviously a critical part of the mathematics within Westminster. We are anxious to provide, as far as possible, reassurances – and talking of border polls is really wide of the mark and entirely unhelpful at this stage.”

Given recent developments, Minister Creed was asked if he believes that a no-deal outcome is now more likely.

I think it’s more likely today than it was yesterday. Having said that, I still think it’s unlikely and I still think there is a substantial majority within the House of Commons that does not want a no-deal Brexit.

However, the minister emphasised that the UK Government has to realise that actions are needed to avoid such a scenario.

He listed out options available: approve the withdrawal treaty; extend the Article 50 process; or withdraw the Article 50 process.

“If they do not act, the default position is then a hard Brexit,” Minister Creed warned.

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