‘Checks on Irish border will depend on decisions made at Westminster’

Checks on the Irish border will depend on the decisions made by the British Government in the coming weeks, Ireland’s Finance Minister has said.

Paschal Donohoe said the risk of a no-deal Brexit is growing amid escalating turbulence in the House of Commons.

As the date of Budget 2020 approaches, the Irish Government has not yet stated whether it will implement its no-deal Brexit budget plans.

Earlier this year, Mr Donohoe said that, if the UK crashes out of the EU without an agreement, Ireland would lose up to 50,000 jobs.

Speaking in Waterford, the Finance Minister said he will outline the plans the Government will put in place to deal with the consequences of a no-deal Brexit.

“Through the European Commission we are continuing to work hard to look at other ways in which this can be avoided,” he said.

“But it is very clear that the risk of a no-deal Brexit is growing and we will need to be prepared for it.

“If we are in a situation in which the current uncertainty continues to increase then it’s even more important that we are demonstrating that we are certain about key policy areas that really matter to our economy, to those who work in our economy and those who invest in our economy.

“We will be able to be clear by the time we get to framing Budget 2020 about our plans to invest in our economy, we will be clear about where we stand in relation to important areas like taxation.

“If we see uncertainty developing elsewhere, and if we see the economic consequences of that uncertainty developing, it’s even more important that we do all we can to ensure we are clear on where we stand on big economic decisions.

“A no-deal Brexit will create many unknowns.

Asked what the Irish border will look like in six months’ time and whether there will be checks, he said: “All that depends on decisions that are made by the British Government in the coming weeks.”

His comments came as it was revealed that around 10,000 jobs will be lost in the Irish tourism industry if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.

According to Rosemary Garth, chairwoman of the Drinks Industry Group of Ireland (Digi), UK tourism has dropped in Ireland.

“A no-deal Brexit will further damage sterling and further reduce overseas visitor numbers,” she said.

“Even more significantly, it will encourage cross-border shopping, which is a major concern for this industry, diverting sales from Irish businesses to cheaper produce across the border which would severely impact this industry, as occurred in the past.

“A disruption in agri-food will cause disruption in drinks production, leading to knock-on effects for drinks retailers and hospitality providers. Jobs will be lost and businesses will close, especially in rural areas.

“Obviously, the daily chaos in Westminster makes long-term planning for a no-deal Brexit immensely difficult.

“However, considering that the chance of the UK and the EU reaching a deal is now very small, the Irish Government must do everything in its power to lower or remove barriers that impede Irish businesses from operating at their maximum efficiency and productivity.”

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