Northern Ireland

Brexit: Call for emergency Belfast talks in event of no deal

Ursula von der Leyen; Boris Johnson; Leo Varadkar Image copyright Reuters/PA
Image caption The report said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar should meet in Belfast if there is no deal

UK, Irish and EU leaders should hold emergency talks in Belfast on temporary resolutions for Northern Ireland if a no-deal Brexit occurs, the UK's biggest business group has said.

The recommendation is one of 200 made in a report by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI).

The report focuses on contingency plans for the event of no deal.

It comes after Michael Gove said the UK government is "working on the assumption" of no deal.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has made Mr Gove responsible for preparing for no-deal.

Treasury sources have said they expect more than £1bn of extra funding to be made available later this week for no-deal planning and preparation.

The Irish backstop has been key issue in efforts to get a deal for the UK's withdrawal from the EU.

What is the backstop?

The backstop is a key piece of the Brexit deal dictating what will happen to the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

It is a last resort that guarantees a frictionless border if no better solution is devised in time - by maintaining close ties between the UK and the EU until such a solution is found.

Read more here.

A no-deal Brexit would mean the UK leaving the EU and cutting ties immediately, with no agreement in place.

However, there have been dire warnings about the potential effects of no deal, particularly on Northern Ireland given its land border with the Republic of Ireland, which is in the EU.

The CBI has supported a deal, but, in its latest report, it focuses on what steps have been taken by the UK and EU to prepare for no deal.

It said that the report indicates that neither side is prepared for a no-deal Brexit on 31 October, and that the EU lags behind the UK in seeking to prevent the worst effects of a no deal.

In a section of recommendations for UK-EU joint action in the event of no deal, it proposes that both sides must enter into immediate emergency talks on Northern Ireland.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The prospects of a Brexit deal have foundered on the issue of what to do about the Irish border

"The first flight the UK prime minister, the Irish taoiseach (prime minister) and president of the European Commission must take, if a no deal occurs, is to Belfast," the report said.

"At the very least, a temporary negotiated settlement for the Irish border is essential to agree within the first weeks of no deal."

It added that parties in Northern Ireland should "attempt to reach an emergency compromise to restore governance in the region for the period of no-deal talks" but, if that does not happen, then local politicians "should be closely involved in agreeing temporary resolutions".

Northern Ireland remains without a devolved government after the collapse of the power-sharing institutions in 2017.

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