Former Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said that Ireland is preparing contingency measures in case Boris Johnson invokes Article 16 and suspends the Northern Ireland protocol.
Mr Varadkar also warned of the risk of further trade obstacles being imposed, as Ireland considers its own reaction. He specifically said that if Brexit Minister Lord Frost chose the “nuclear option,” the EU “would have no option other than to introduce what we call rebalancing measures.”
Mr Varadkar told the RTE broadcaster: “We had a meeting yesterday of the Cabinet subcommittee on Brexit essentially to dust down and restart our contingency preparations should we get into difficulty. We’re making preparations.”
Mr Varadkar stressed that if Britain withdraws from the Northern Ireland Protocol and its larger EU divorce arrangement, the EU “would have no option other than to introduce what we call rebalancing measures to respond.”
When asked whether the European Union might or should consider suspending the Trade and Cooperation Agreement as a post-Brexit trade pact, Mr Varadkar said it was something the EU commission “is going to have to consider.”
Mr Varadkar expressed his hope that a flare-up could be averted.
“Prime Minister Johnson always spoke about wanting Brexit done,” he said.
“Brexit is kind of done. But this potentially undoes it.
“I don’t think it would be good for us, for Great Britain, and I don’t see how it would be good for Northern Ireland.”
Mr Martin, the current Taoiseach, reiterated on Tuesday that the UK Government’s decision to use Article 16 of the treaty, which he described as “reckless and irresponsible,” was not inevitable.
The Taoiseach asked Britain to think about the consequences of such a step for its ties with the EU and Ireland.
“I don’t think anything should be taken as inevitable in respect of the current talks on the protocol that are underway between the European Union and the United Kingdom Government,” he stated.
Mr Martin, on the other hand, added: “Obviously, European Union/United Kingdom relations are very important over time, and they should be a relationship that’s built on sustained trust, they should be constructive.
“They should lead to the mutual benefit of citizens of the UK and citizens of the European Union.”
He emphasised: “The relationship between Ireland and Great Britain is a fundamental one, the relationship between the two Governments over 30 years has been central to the peace process, central to the architecture of the Good Friday Agreement.
“There’s an obligation on all parties to take those two fundamental sets of relationships into account before any action is taken.”
“Obviously, European Union/United Kingdom relations are very important over time, and they should be a relationship that’s built on sustained trust, they should be constructive.”