Taoiseach issues warning over no-deal ‘seismic shock’

By Michelle Devane, PA
·2-min read

The Taoiseach has said the last thing the UK and Ireland need in the midst of Covid-19 is a “second seismic shock” caused by a no-deal Brexit.

Micheal Martin told the Dail the trade negotiations between the EU and the UK had “intensified” in the past week and were now at a “very crucial point”.

He said the negotiations need to “yield a sensible outcome” and that the last thing the UK and Irish economies need is a “second seismic shock” caused by a no-deal Brexit.

Mr Martin described such an outcome as a comprehensive free trade agreement without any tariffs or quotas that would limit the damage Brexit would cause for the Irish, European and UK economies.

“Given the enormous negative impact that Covid-19 has had on our economy and on jobs the last thing that our respective economies need is a second seismic shock via a no-deal Brexit,” Mr Martin said.

The Fianna Fail leader also said any deal would need to “lead to a neutralisation of the offending clauses of the Internal Markets Bill” and lead to “strict adherence to the protocol and the Withdrawal Agreement”.

He added that he welcomed the decision taken in the House of Lords on Monday in relation to the Internal Markets Bill.

His comments come as Downing Street said the bill was unlikely to return to the Commons until the end of November at the earliest.

Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald told the Irish parliament that the election of Joe Biden to the Office of the US President has “the potential to reshape the nature of the Brexit negotiation”.

Ms McDonald said Mr Biden’s election was “good for Ireland in many ways”, and that the president-elect had “made it clear” that there would be no trade deal with Britain unless the Good Friday Agreement is safeguarded in all of its parts.

Ms McDonald said: “He is as we know proud of his Irish roots and without doubt a long-standing friend of Ireland.

“During the presidential election campaign and indeed throughout his time in office he has acted to promote and protect peace, progress and the Good Friday Agreement.

“He comes to the office of president at a time of threat from the British Government with Brexit and their refusal to honour agreements looming large.”

She added: “The election of Joe Biden has the potential to reshape the nature of the Brexit negotiation particularly with regards to the aggressive and arrogant approach taken by the Tory Government and Boris Johnson to Irish interests.

“Throughout this process Tories have actively sought to undermine the Good Friday Agreement and most recently Mr Johnson has played the reckless game by using as a bargaining chip the protection secured for Ireland as part of the Withdrawal Agreement.

“Central to this game-playing has been Mr Johnson’s dangerous Internal Markets Bill.”

But she said she still believed a Brexit trade deal was possible.