The Taoiseach has said that the Cabinet will tomorrow discuss a major omnibus piece of legislation that would prepare the country for a no-deal Brexit.

He said this would be one of major pieces of legislation on the Dáil programme in the period ahead.

It is understood this legislation will not be put before the Dáil until the beginning of March if it is needed.

Mr Varadkar said he still believes a no-deal Brexit is unlikely but the country has to be prepared for it.

A number of medicines that could be short supply in the event of a hard Brexit have been identified and ways of ensuring there are adequate stocks will be also be looked at by Cabinet tomorrow.

The Taoiseach said too that the ports and airports will be ready for a hard Brexit, but warned that no country in the world can fully prepare for Brexit.

Mr Varadkar told a meeting of his party that Brexit will be the dominant theme of politics in the months ahead.

He said the Government is intensively focused on preparing the country for all eventualities when it comes to Britain's departure from the EU.


Read more:
Fianna Fáil renews Confidence and Supply Agreement
Taoiseach: 'No guarantee' election won't be called before 2020

Tánaiste defends renewal of Confidence and Supply Agreement


Looking ahead to the local and European elections, he said Fine Gael’s objective is to be the largest party - both in terms of votes cast and seats won.

He said the Government does not propose to have a general election until the summer of 2020 and has recently concluded discussions to extend the Confidence and Supply arrangement with Fianna Fáil.

But Mr Varadkar said a minority government must remember the words of Shakespeare and for all things be ready.

"We must be prepared for anything," he said.

Separately, the Taoiseach also said that any increases in the Local Property Tax in 2020 would be modest.

Earlier, Tánaiste Simon Coveney said that this week is going to be a really significant one for Brexit and Ireland must "hold its nerve."

MPs in the House of Commons are to vote tomorrow on Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement. 

During an address at the House of Commons, Mrs May warned MPs against voting against her deal, and urged them to take a second look at it.  

Speaking on RTÉ’s Today with Sean O’Rourke, Mr Coveney said the Irish Government needed to stay close to both the British government and its EU partners.

He said he hopes a letter from the European Union offering assurances on the backstop to the British government will provide reassurance and clarity.

The letter, which has been jointly issued by the presidents of the European Council and Commission, insists that there can be no renegotiation of the backstop.

Mr Coveney said the backstop is a temporary measure that people should not feel threatened by.

This is reiterated in the EU letter, which says that even if triggered the backstop would only be temporary until a better agreement is found.

The Tánaiste said that if the vote is passed in the House of Commons tomorrow evening, the ratification process could conclude quite quickly.

He added that he agreed with Mrs May that "now is not the time to focus on plan B".

Mr Coveney said that contingency planning for a no-deal Brexit continues, but he hopes that will not have to be used.

The Tánaiste said that people should not be concerned about drug supplies running low in the case of a no-deal Brexit.

He also said the Oireachtas had the capacity to deal with an emergency and would be open to proposals from opposition parties.

Meanwhile, Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald has said that whatever the outcome is on the House of Commons Brexit deal vote , Irish interests must be protected.

Speaking to the media at Stormont, she described the stakes as "very high" as MPs prepare to vote on Mrs May’s deal.

"We have commitments from our partners at a European level, that the needs of this island north and south have been recognised and understood, and will be protected in the most fundamental of ways and we expect that those commitments will be honoured."

Ms McDonald described the Irish backstop as the "bottom line", and claimed that anyone seeking to "dilute" the backstop "isn't dealing in political realities".

She blasted the DUP for opposing the backstop as "reckless and irresponsible".

"It certainly is not in the interests of the people of the north of Ireland," she said.

Additional reporting: PA