Michael D’Arcy rebuffed Leo Varadkar’s claim that Britain can still leave the European Union with an agreement – insisting no deal is the most likely outcome. Ireland would be impacted the most out of any European Union country in the event of a no-deal Brexit, he added. But he believes Brussels will offer a significant level of financial aid, which could also be made available to other countries hurt by no deal.
“The deal will be done after October 31,” Mr D’Arcy said, suggesting any agreement will come once Britain is no longer a member of the EU.
“Some people in the UK have convinced themselves that no deal is a good thing and that there are no circumstances that the European Union would allow the UK to crash out.”
Boris Johnson has told Brussels that he will only come back to the negotiating table if the controversial Irish backstop is abolished.
But the EU has said the withdrawal deal, agreed between Theresa May and the bloc’s leaders last November, will not be reopened.
Mr D’Arcy added: “Could Brexit go badly wrong? Sure it could.
“Ireland is the country that will be impacted more than anybody else. Potentially, this could have a huge impact on the Irish economy.”
The junior minister, who is responsible for financial services, insisted that Dublin would likely need financial assistance from Brussels to lessen the impact of no deal.
He said: “It is important to show the solidarity from our European partners to a small nation in a time of difficulty.
‘Financial support potentially may be required for the continent. Support would be on an EU-wide basis rather than an individual country basis.
“The European budget is close to €270 billion per annum. So it would be part of that European budget.”
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Earlier this year, the European Commission raised the prospect of handing of financial aid packages across the continent to help with the impact of a no-deal Brexit.
Agriculture is one of the targeted industries for assistance, which is expected to be Ireland’s worst hit business if Britain leaves the EU without an agreement.
Mr D’Arcy insists Ireland is prepared for a no deal fallout and does not expect a full international bailout, like Dublin has received in the past during the financial crisis.
Northern Ireland is also expected to feel the pinch in the event of a no-deal Brexit, according to cattle industry insiders.
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Some expect as many as 45,000 dairy cows could face being culled in Northern Ireland if new higher trade tariffs are placed on British milk exports in a no-deal Brexit.
Much of the region’s milk exports cross the border into the Republic of Ireland – around a third of its daily output.
One insider said: “”Dairy herds have to be milked, it’s not like you can leave the milk in the cows they would bloat up and ultimately die.
“If there is no market, and farmers cannot sell their milk, they could only keep going for a very short period.
“We’re talking about hundreds of thousands of litres of milk going to waste, and then the farmers would have no choice but to reduce their herds.”
In response, a Defra spokesman said: “A widespread cull of livestock is absolutely not something that the government anticipates nor is planning for in the event of no deal.
“We will always back Britain and Northern Ireland’s great farmers and make sure that Brexit works for them.
“The government is boosting its preparations to ensure we are fully prepared to leave the EU on October 31, whatever the circumstances.”
Industry figures have also warned the Government against applying a zero percent tariff for domestic imports, enabling foreign producers to enter the market with huge advantages.
Michael Bell, executive director of the Northern Ireland Food and Drink Association, said: “The impact of a no-deal Brexit on food and drink – Northern Ireland’s largest industrial sector – will potentially be very severe.
“Given our reliance on EU exports, and the fact that the agri-food sector on the island of Ireland is highly integrated, leaving the European Union without a deal would leave us uniquely exposed.
“”Locally, the lack of a Northern Ireland executive at a time of immense uncertainty for the industry is a major problem.
“The Northern Ireland food industry and the economy as a whole is potentially facing unprecedented difficulty, yet we remain without ministers able to take important decisions and fight our corner.
“I would strongly urge the UK government, and our local politicians, to work together to avoid a no-deal at all costs, before it is too late.”
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