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Brexit: No-deal Brexit would be UK’s choice, Ireland’s deputy PM says

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Media captionSimon Coveney: Ireland would have to protect its place in the EU single market

Ireland will have to protect its place in the single market should the UK leave the EU without a deal, the country’s deputy prime minister says.

Simon Coveney told the BBC the decision to have a no-deal Brexit would be the UK’s but added everybody would lose.

Checks “of some sorts” would have to be carried out in Ireland, he said.

He also said he hoped the future UK-EU relationship would mean the so-called backstop could be avoided but that it had to stay in the withdrawal deal.

The backstop, included in the withdrawal agreement negotiated by Prime Minister Theresa May and the EU, is designed as an insurance policy to prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland after Brexit.

Mr Coveney warned that if the incoming Conservative prime minister chose to “tear up” the withdrawal agreement, then “we’re in trouble”.

“That’s a little bit like saying, ‘Give me what I want or I’m going to burn the house down for everybody,'” he told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show.

“If the British government forces a no-deal Brexit on everybody else, the Republic of Ireland will have no choice but to protect its own place in the EU single market. That would fundamentally disrupt the all-Ireland economy.”

He said the all-Ireland economy had helped maintain peace on the island of Ireland but that protecting it would “not be possible” in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

However, he added that contingency plans had been made with the European Commission to try to minimise the disruption.

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Image caption Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt have said they would keep no deal on the table to strengthen negotiations

The withdrawal agreement has been rejected three times by MPs in the Commons, with the backstop a key sticking point among Brexiteers.

The two men vying to become the next prime minister, Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt, have said the backstop is “dead” – a position seen as increasing the likelihood of a no-deal Brexit.

If MPs fail to support a Brexit deal agreed between UK and EU by 31 October, the legal default is to leave with no deal on that date.

Both contenders to be the next prime minister have said they want to leave on that date and renegotiate with the EU, leaving with a deal.

But Mr Hunt and Mr Johnson have also said they would keep the possibility of no deal on the table to strengthen negotiations, despite Parliament voting to rule the option out.

Mr Johnson has also refused to rule out suspending Parliament to force a no-deal Brexit through.

This week, MPs backed a bid to make it harder for a new prime minister to do this.

A majority of 41 approved the amendment, with four cabinet ministers, including Chancellor Philip Hammond, abstaining.


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