The 45 laws that would need to be passed by the Oireachtas in the event of a no-deal Brexit would be condensed into four pieces of primary legislation, the Taoiseach has said.

Speaking at Government Buildings after a Cabinet meeting, Leo Varadkar said there are no plans to recall the Dáil next week.

He said it is not the Government's intention to tie up the Dáil in January and February passing legislation that might not ultimately be needed.

Instead, he said Dáil and Seanad business would be cleared in March, if needed, to get the legislation through.

The Taoiseach also said Ireland recorded a budget surplus of €100m, its first since the 2008 financial crisis, and expects to run another in 2019.

Mr Varadkar added that Ireland will not accept any change to a Brexit deal that renders the backstop inoperable.

He said that in the event of a no-deal Brexit, he may seek permission from the EU to support companies beyond state aid rules.



He said clarifications or changes to the Brexit deal cannot go against the spirit of the current deal, adding that the border is the only red line that Ireland has had and that will not change.

The Taoiseach said he held a 40-minute phone conversation with the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, this morning at her request.

The conversation focused on securing the ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement, which is expected to be put to a vote in the House of Commons in the coming weeks.

Both leaders agreed they would stand by the agreement made with the UK government in November.

They said they were happy to offer reassurances and guarantees to the UK, but not reassurances or guarantees that would contradict what was agreed in November.


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Earlier, the contingency plans for a no-deal Brexit were discussed at the first Cabinet meeting of 2019.

Ministers discussed the Dáil schedule for the coming months and how legislation needed to deal with the potential impact of the UK leaving the European Union without an agreement could be passed.

The no-deal contingency plans were published before Christmas.

Included is the acceleration of recruitment for 600 customs officer posts, as well as extra staff for Revenue and Agriculture.

The Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation has said that the Government is continuing to plan for all scenarios.

Heather Humphreys said as far as she is concerned, the Government is not planning for a border infrastructure or related checks.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Drivetime, she said that the EU and the UK have agreed and reiterated that this will not happen.

If there is a no-deal outcome, Ms Humphreys said that the UK will have to come up with ways to ensure there is no hard border, as Brexit is a UK policy.

Additional Reporting Reuters