Thursday, 13 December 2018
Ceisteanna ó Cheannairí - Leaders' Questions
The internal battles of the Tory party are not a matter for this House, thank God, but the stability of the British Government and the British economy is. We are all aware of the potential economic and social impact of Brexit. The staggeringly high stakes do not appear to bother many in the British political system. When one reflects on yesterday's events Shakespeare's "...day of sound and fury, Signifying nothing..." is the most apt description. The fundamental position remains the same as it was at this time yesterday, that barring some vague promises the backstop and the agreement as agreed remain. I ask the Tánaiste to endorse that again today.
In the face of the political chaos in Westminster our role must be to stand firm behind our deal and hope that our EU partners stand firm with us. However, in spite of that support we still risk being the meat in the Brexit sandwich, with collateral damage to our economy due to the straitjacket politics of Brexiteers. We must continue to work to ensure the backstop is upheld. We must ensure that we avoid a disastrous hard border extending across the island from Newry to Derry. In contrast to the slow car crash chaos in the UK we must provide clarity and certainty in this country. However, instead of providing that clarity and certainty the Government continues to delay and prevaricate in publishing its plans for the case of a no-deal Brexit. The protracted internal politics in the UK means a no-deal Brexit is moving closer every day. As of today, 29 March 2019 is a hard deal, cliff edge deadline.
Even amidst the chaos of politics in the UK that country has produced detailed plans to address the prospect of a hard Brexit. The UK has more than 100 plans that are constantly being refined and updated. The EU Commission has published 70 updated plans. The Irish Government has none. How many plans has the Government commissioned? When will it publish the detailed no-deal plans so all our citizens can buy into them and understand the consequences of a no-deal Brexit on their daily lives? Can the Tánaiste give a specific date for the plans to be published? Finally, is the Tánaiste concerned that by delaying the publication of those plans the Government will undermine their ultimate effectiveness in terms of preparing the country and, more importantly, the people for what may lie ahead?