Ireland to seek emergency EU help in case of no-deal Brexit

Irish PM Leo Varadkar says he's "given up speculating" on whether the UK will strike a deal with the EU. His agriculture minister insists Ireland would need "mega money" from the EU to cope with a no-deal Brexit.

The Irish government could be forced to ask the European Union for hundreds of millions of euros of economic aid, should Britain crash out of the bloc without a deal.

That was the assessment of Irish Agriculture Minister Michael Creed, as he was asked what would happen if a no-deal Brexit were to become a reality.

Ireland, which relies heavily on its fishing and farming sector, would be the EU member most exposed to the economic dangers of a no-deal scenario.

"I think nobody wants to talk about it right now because there is still a hope and expectation that a level of sanity will prevail," Creed told the Irish Independent newspaper on Thursday.

Politics | 23.12.2018

However, Creed said he acknowledged that the odds on Britain crashing out of the EU had shortened considerably in the past weeks. Such a move could see problems for Irish farmers in accessing the UK market as before.

"I think we would get help. It's all about the level of help," Creed said.

Read more: Brexit drags up Northern Ireland's dark past

"You're looking at hundreds of millions here. Between the beef industry and the fishing industry we're talking mega-money," Creed said.

Brexit timeline: Charting Britain's turbulent exodus from Europe

June 2016: 'The will of the British people'

After a shrill referendum campaign, nearly 52 percent of British voters opted to leave the EU on June 24. Polls had shown a close race before the vote with a slight lead for those favoring remaining in the EU. Conservative British Prime Minister David Cameron, who had campaigned for Britain to stay, acknowledged the "will of the British people" and resigned the following morning.

Brexit timeline: Charting Britain's turbulent exodus from Europe

July 2016: 'Brexit means Brexit'

Former Home Secretary Theresa May replaced David Cameron as prime minister on July 11 and promised the country that "Brexit means Brexit." May had quietly supported the Remain campaign before the referendum. She did not initially say when her government would trigger Article 50 of the EU treaty to start the two-year talks leading to Britain's formal exit.

Brexit timeline: Charting Britain's turbulent exodus from Europe

March 2017: 'We already miss you'

May eventually signed a diplomatic letter over six months later on March 29, 2017 to trigger Article 50. Hours later, Britain's ambassador to the EU, Tim Barrow, handed the note to European Council President Donald Tusk. Britain's exit was officially set for March 29, 2019. Tusk ended his brief statement on the decision with: "We already miss you. Thank you and goodbye."

Brexit timeline: Charting Britain's turbulent exodus from Europe

June 2017: And they're off!

British Brexit Secretary David Davis and the EU's chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, kicked off talks in Brussels on June 19. The first round ended with Britain reluctantly agreeing to follow the EU's timeline for the rest of the negotiations. The timeline split talks into two phases. The first would settle the terms of Britain's exit, and the second the terms of the EU-UK relationship post-Brexit.

Brexit timeline: Charting Britain's turbulent exodus from Europe

July-October 2017: Money, rights and Ireland

The second round of talks in mid-July began with an unflattering photo of a seemingly unprepared British team. It and subsequent rounds ended with little progress on three phase one issues: How much Britain still needed to pay into the EU budget after it leaves, the post-Brexit rights of EU and British citizens and whether Britain could keep an open border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Brexit timeline: Charting Britain's turbulent exodus from Europe

November 2017: May pays out?

Progress appeared to have been made after round six in early November with Britain reportedly agreeing to pay up to £50 billion (€57 billion/$68 billion) for the "divorce bill." May had earlier said she was only willing to pay €20 billion, while the EU had calculated some €60 billion euros. Reports of Britain's concession sparked outrage among pro-Brexit politicians and media outlets.

Brexit timeline: Charting Britain's turbulent exodus from Europe

December 2017: Go-ahead for phase 2

Leaders of the remaining 27 EU members formally agreed that "sufficient progress" had been made to move on to phase two issues: the post-Brexit transition period and the future UK-EU trading relationship. While Prime Minister Theresa May expressed her delight at the decision, European Council President Tusk ominously warned that the second stage of talks would be "dramatically difficult."

Brexit timeline: Charting Britain's turbulent exodus from Europe

July 2018: Johnson, Davis resign

British ministers appeared to back a Brexit plan at May's Chequers residence on July 6. The proposal would have kept Britain in a "combined customs territory" with the EU and signed up to a "common rulebook" on all goods. That went too far for British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson and Brexit Secretary David Davis, who resigned a few days later. May replaced them with Jeremy Hunt and Dominic Raab.

Brexit timeline: Charting Britain's turbulent exodus from Europe

September 2018: No cherries for Britain

May's Chequers proposal did not go down well with EU leaders, who told her at a summit in Salzburg in late September that it was unacceptable. EU Council President Tusk trolled May on Instagram, captioning a picture of himself and May looking at cakes with the line: "A piece of cake perhaps? Sorry, no cherries." The gag echoed previous EU accusations of British cherry-picking.

Brexit timeline: Charting Britain's turbulent exodus from Europe

November 2018: Breakthrough in Brussels

EU leaders endorsed a 585-page draft divorce deal and political declaration on post-Brexit ties in late November. The draft had been widely condemned by pro- and anti-Brexit lawmakers in the British Parliament only weeks earlier. Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab resigned along with several other ministers, and dozens of Conservative Party members tried to trigger a no-confidence vote in May.

Brexit timeline: Charting Britain's turbulent exodus from Europe

December 2018: May survives rebellion

In the face of unrelenting opposition, May postponed a parliamentary vote on the deal on December 10. The next day, she met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel to seek reassurances that would, she hoped, be enough to convince skeptical lawmakers to back the deal. But while she was away, hard-line Conservative lawmakers triggered a no-confidence vote. May won the vote a day later.

Brexit timeline: Charting Britain's turbulent exodus from Europe

January 2019: Agreement voted down

The UK Parliament voted 432 to 202 against May's Brexit deal on January 16. In response to the result, European Council President Donald Tusk suggested the only solution was for the UK to stay in the EU. Meanwhile, Britain's Labour Party called for a no-confidence vote in the prime minister, her second leadership challenge in as many months.

Brexit timeline: Charting Britain's turbulent exodus from Europe

March 2019: Second defeat for May's deal

May tried to get legal changes to the deal's so-called Irish backstop in the weeks that followed. She eventually got assurances that the UK could suspend the backstop under certain circumstances. But on March 12, Parliament voted against the revised Brexit deal by 391 to 242. EU leaders warned the vote increased the likelihood of a no-deal Brexit. Two days later, MPs voted to delay Brexit.

Meanwhile, Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said he had "given up speculating at this stage" about whether or not Britain would finally strike a deal.

Brainstorming with Merkel

Varadkar, speaking after a "brainstorming" phone conversation with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, reaffirmed that Ireland would not accept a Brexit deal that did not guarantee there would be no hard border on the island of Ireland.

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"All along the way, we have been doing our best to assist the UK in solving the problems that it is creating for the rest of us. And we will continue to do that, but there is a limitation," said Varadkar.

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DW News | 14.12.2018

May: EU can do more to help sell Brexit deal

His conversation with Merkel focused on the ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement, which is due to go before the UK parliament this month.

English police to N. Ireland?

The chances that British Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit bill will be passed by MPs look slim. Defeat would leave the whole process in limbo, increasing the chances of leaving without a deal on March 29.

Read more: At Irish border, Brexit evokes history of violence

Britain's Guardian newspaper reported late on Thursday that some 1,000 English and Scottish police officers would start training for deployment to Northern Ireland in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

The plans were drawn up after Northern Irish police chiefs asked for reinforcements to deal with any trouble that might arise from a hard border. It's feared that such a move would inflame tensions in Northern Ireland, and complicate efforts to restore the province's power-sharing agreement between nationalists and loyalists, which collapsed in 2017.

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