The Tánaiste Simon Coveney has warned that a ‘no deal’ Brexit in six weeks will bring “far-reaching changes” and end frictionless cross-border trade.
Deputy Coveney said the government was doing everything in its power to avoid a hard border and ensure this does not play out.
“Avoiding the return of a hard border on this island is a Government priority in all circumstances. This is why the backstop continues to be a critical component of the withdrawal agreement, unless and until an alternative is found.
“Ratifying the withdrawal agreement remains the only viable solution on the table that avoids any physical infrastructure and related checks or controls, fully protects the Good Friday Agreement, safeguards North-South co-operation, and preserves the all-island economy, as well the integrity of the EU Single Market and Ireland’s continuing place in it.
"No one has yet come up with any alternatives aimed at avoiding a hard border that match what is safeguarded by the backstop,” he told T.D.s on Tuesday.
He said continuing indecision in London meant a ‘no deal’ Brexit was a “significant risk” but that the government was working with the European Commission to avoid a hard border and protect the Single Market.
“However, a no-deal Brexit will unavoidably mean far-reaching change in North-South trade on the island of Ireland which will certainly no longer be as frictionless. Tariffs would apply and the impact of customs and sanitary and phytosanitary, SPS, requirements and associated checks necessary to protect Ireland’s place in the Single Market would be significant to the operation of the all-island economy,” he said.