Ministers have ‘taken their foot off the pedal’ in Brexit preparation

Government ministers have “taken their foot off the pedal” in preparing for Brexit, according to Fianna Fáil.

Lisa Chambers, the party’s spokesperson on Brexit, was responding to a leaked UK government document, originally published in the UK’s Sunday Times, which said that a hard border with Ireland would result from a no-deal Brexit.

Not only that, but the UK would also face shortages of fuel, food and medicine as a result of a crash-out, the document said.

This leaked document merely backs up all of the warnings that Ireland has been outlining about the fallout from a no-deal Brexit. Most serious of these is the possibility of a return of a border on the island of Ireland – something which cannot and should not be countenanced.

Chambers argued that the effects of a no-deal Brexit on the UK could be mirrored here.

“Let me be clear, a no-deal Brexit would be catastrophic for the island of Ireland – this document catalogues a sector-by-sector impact on the UK, but there will also be huge implications for these areas in Ireland,” she said.

Chambers continued: “Given the makeup of Northern Ireland’s economy, structured around the SME [small  and medium enterprises] and agri-food sectors, and the very tight supply chains linking north-south and east-west, the effects of a no-deal Brexit would be severe and damaging.

Over the past three years we have been appealing to all sides to adopt a logical and reasonable approach and yet we find ourselves facing the prospect of a major economic and social catastrophe in just over two months’ time.

“Therefore, despite the leaking of such a detailed and hard-hitting document, we should not expect the UK government to change its approach, given the determination it has shown in recent weeks to leave the EU at any cost,” said the Co. Mayo TD.

Chambers called on the Government to “step up” its preparations for a no-deal Brexit.

It has been evident since March that ministers have taken their foot off the pedal in terms of preparations for all Brexit outcomes, and we are now playing catch up.

She added that the release of the UK government document should “act as a wake-up call to the very real possibility that the UK will crash out of the EU on October 31, and Ireland will be left reeling in the aftermath”.

“Reports of food, fuel and medicine shortages in Britain will surely result in some form of contagion in Ireland because of our extensive use of the UK land bridge,” Chambers warned.

She concluded: “There needs to be a greater sense of urgency from the government, as well as more transparency about our level of preparedness for all Brexit eventualities.”