Dublin is yet to provide answers on how its border with Northern Ireland can be kept infrastructure-free in the event of a no deal Brexit. The prospect of a hard border emerging after Brexit looks ever more certain as EU bosses refuse to listen to Boris Johnson’s request to scrap the controversial backstop. Alexandra Phillips, Brexit Party MEP for the South East, believes Ireland will “suffer at the hands of EU pigheadedness” if Britain quits the bloc without a deal.
Patrick O’Donovan, minister of state at the Irish Department of Finance, today insisted that Dublin continues to work with the European Commission to ensure the border can remain infrastructure-free in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
He told RTE: “These are the things we are trying to avoid and we are working with the European Commission at the moment to look at scenarios that could happen in a no deal case.
“Our priority is to make sure that there’s no physical infrastructure placed on the border of Ireland, because the day you put a physical infrastructure in place you have to protect it.
“And as has been said previously, the day you have somebody that needs to protect the pieces of infrastructure we know that there are people, to borrow the words of some people, who haven’t gone away you know, that will look to a legitimacy to invent some sort of warped campaign.
“The British Government have serious obligations here that they need to be reminded of, which is that they’re co-guarantors of the Good Friday Agreement and that trumps everything.”
Speaking to Express.co.uk, Ms Phillips insisted the Brexit Party will continue to support the need for a open border on the island of Ireland, even if Dublin is abandoned by Brussels.
She said: “It wouldn’t be the first time that Ireland suffers at the hands of EU pigheadedness.
“Let’s not forget the mess the economy was in during the Eurozone crisis and the £3.2bn that the UK gave to its neighbour to help cope with Brussels’ economically illiterate fiscal policy. Nor should we forget the anti-business fines the EU imposed upon Ireland for having the audacity to offer tax relief for major employers.
“Ireland would do well to consider its own future inside the EU. Perhaps Ireland would also do well to remember the close relationship it has with Britain before it allows itself to become a pawn in the EU’s game.
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“Woefully inadequate negotiations coupled with a complete lack of conviction and planning by the May government and the EU’s obsession with making an example of the UK have seen Ireland caught in the middle.
“Leo Varadkar had the opportunity to act in a statesmanlike fashion and work with the UK on Brexit but he blew it.
“However I have no doubt that we will not be seeing any hard infrastructure on the Irish border under a no deal and our two nations will remain great allies and trading partners in the future as Ireland has far more in common with the UK than it does our continental neighbours.”
This weekend a leaked Whitehall dossier claimed that previous Government plans to ensure a frictionless border after Brexit are “unsustainable”.
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The document, which has been written off by Michael Gove, who is in charge of no deal planning, said the measures “to avoid an immediate risk of a return to a hard border on the UK side” are “likely to prove unsustainable because of significant economic, legal and biosecurity risks and no effective mitigation to address this will be available”.
The dossier adds: “The expectation is that some businesses will stop trade to avoid paying the tariff, which will make them uncompetitive, or to avoid the risk of trading illegally, while others will continue to trade, but experience higher costs which may be passed on to consumers.
“The agri-food sector will be the hardest hit, given its reliance on highly integrated cross-border supply chains and high tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade.
“Disruption to key sectors and job losses are likely to result in protests and direct action with road blockages.”
Ireland heavily relies on the so-called UK land bridge and any trade disruption between the UK and EU could lead to food, medicine and fuel shortages for Dublin.
Despite the threat to Dublin, Leo Varadkar remains steadfast in his refusal to reopen the withdrawal agreement for Mr Johnson, which was agreed by his predecessor Theresa May and EU leaders last November.
The Prime Minister is expected to warn EU leaders ahead of the G7 summit that he will not consider a deal unless the backstop is removed from the package.
He will meet French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel in the coming days.
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