Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Brexit Stephen Donnelly TD has warned that a hard Brexit remains on the table, despite a change in Prime Minister May’s tone during a keynote speech in Florence earlier today.

Deputy Donnelly said, “Today’s speech contained some welcome elements including a commitment to protect the Good Friday Agreement, the Common Travel Area and the realisation that a transition period is required. This transition period would be vital for Irish business and farmers.

“Unfortunately, the speech also reinforced Prime Minister May’s commitment to a ‘hard’ Brexit by restating that the UK would be leaving the Customs Union and the Single Market. It offered very little progress towards realistic solutions.

“Staying in the Customs Union remains off the table, and with that, a workable solution for an open border with Northern Ireland. The EEA model has also been disposed of, alongside a Canadian- style agreement.

“The Prime Minister reiterated today that no deal is better than a bad deal. The UK is preparing for every eventuality – including a hard Brexit. Ireland must do the same. The Government must develop and complete the sectoral response plans which have been promised for months. This must begin with the publication of contingency plans for a hard Brexit, well ahead of the 2019 deadline.

“I found it deeply disturbing that Minister of State for European Affairs Helen McEntee seemed to confirm yesterday that no such plans are in place, nor are they underway. The only development along these lines seems to be that committees will be meeting soon to discuss the issue. This isn’t good enough,” concluded Deputy Donnelly.