Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Brexit Lisa Chambers TD says government must heed the sobering warning from European Commission President Jean Claude Juncker that although a “no deal” scenario is unlikely, it is possible and we must prepare for a hard Brexit.

“These were honest and strong words from President Juncker to the Dáil and Seanad today and perhaps now the penny will finally drop with the Irish government that a hard Brexit is possible and we must accelerate our domestic preparedness”, said Deputy Chambers.

“Today’s address not only afforded us the opportunity to hear directly from President Juncker, it also allowed for an honest and frank exchange of views across the parliament. It was certainly reassuring to hear that the EU is still, and will remain, firmly behind Ireland.  In President Juncker’s own words, “Ireland will come first”. I do not doubt the sincerity of the EU negotiating team and their commitment to Ireland in these negotiations but serious issues still remain unresolved with President Junker himself acknowledging that “there is not much time left to reach agreement”.

“I share President Juncker’s frustration with the lack of progress on the Irish questions, particularly his assertion that “we need more answers and fewer new questions”.   The UK has failed to come up with any practical solutions, and indeed every week seems to bring with it new issues to be resolved.

“It has been two years since the UK embarked upon the road to Brexit and it has failed completely to bring any workable solutions to the table. It is extremely concerning that the June deadline has now evaporated and all focus will be on the final council meeting where there will be pressure across the board to reach agreement at the eleventh hour or face the UK crashing out of the EU with no deal.

“The Taoiseach and Tánaiste need to dispense with the spin on Brexit and start to prepare for all possible eventualities. This government must desist from overselling minimal progress as big political wins, which is what was done with the backstop in December, when we were told it was “rock solid”, “cast iron” and “bullet proof” although it still remains to be agreed some six months later”.