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Ireland publishes no-deal Brexit bill it hopes it won't need

The Irish government published legislation today designed to ease the damage if Britain leaves the European Union next month without a Brexit divorce deal — but said it hoped the law would never be needed.

The Irish government plans to fast-track the bill through Ireland's parliament before the UK's scheduled departure from the bloc on March 29.

As a major trading partner of Britain, and the only EU country that shares a land border with the UK, Ireland faces a huge economic hit if a "no-deal" Brexit introduces tariffs, customs checks and other barriers between Britain and the EU.

Irish Deputy Prime Minister Simon Coveney said the bill would try to "offset the worst effects of a disorderly Brexit."

It seeks to support Irish businesses and ensure that citizens can still get health care and pension payments in the UK.

But Coveney said a no-deal Brexit would be "lose, lose, lose — for the UK, for the EU and for Ireland."

"I hope we never have to use the provisions set out in this piece of legislation. I hope we never have to commence this bill," he said.

"Simply put, as a result of a lot of hard work my only desire is see this legislation sit on the shelf."

British Prime Minister Theresa May and the EU struck a Brexit deal late last year laying out the terms of an orderly departure and establishing a long transition period so businesses can trade under existing rules while future trade relations are worked out.

But Britain's Parliament rejected the deal last month and sent May back to the EU seeking changes. EU leaders insist that the legally Brexit binding withdrawal agreement, which took a year and a half to negotiate, can't be reopened.

Still, the two sides are still holding talks, which the UK has called "constructive."

Deputy Prime Minister Simon Coveney, right, and Minister of State for European Affairs Helen McEntee, give a media conference on the publication of the Withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union (Consequential Provisions) Bill 2019,  at Government Buildings in Dublin, Ireland, Friday Feb. 22, 2019. The Irish government on Friday published legislation designed to ease the damage if Britain leaves the European Union without a deal. (Brian Lawless/PA via AP)
Deputy Prime Minister Simon Coveney, right, and Minister of State for European Affairs Helen McEntee, give a media conference on the publication of the Withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union Bill. Source: Associated Press


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