The clock is ticking on Brexit with now little over a year before the UK’s membership of the EU ends. The gap between the British Government and European Council remains enormous.

Debating the consequences of this today with the Taoiseach, Labour leader Brendan Howlin said:

“It is not good enough today, that in response to my questions on Brexit that the Taoiseach said ‘I do not want to be in a situation in a year’s time whereby, despite everyone’s best efforts, somehow we end up in a chaotic hard Brexit with no agreement.’.

“I firmly believe that it is time now for the Dáil and our Government to state in absolutely clear terms that the position as agreed in December cannot be achieved if the UK as a whole is not a member of a customs union or does not apply the rules of the single market.

“It is beyond farcical that 20 months into negotiations, weeks away from a crucial EU Council summit, and little over a year until the UK leaves, that the British Government is still unable to outline how a hard border will be avoided.

“On Monday, in Westminster the Prime Minister proposed the US-Canada border as an example of a solution – but that is a hard border. Meanwhile the EU Commission has translated the December agreement into legal terms that the UK Government has flatly rejected.

“The undeniable truth now is that the irreconcilable fudge at the heart of the backstop is that it is not possible to have no border on the island of Ireland nor a border between this island and Britian, if the UK pulls out of the single market and customs union.

“The probability of no deal is increasing every day and as stated by the EU Council President Donald Tusk today on the terms of a trade deal, ‘divergence in external tariffs and internal rules as well as absence of common institutions and a shared legal system, necessitates checks and controls to uphold the integrity of the EU single market”