Officials are preparing for a ‘make-or-break’ round of EU/UK trade talks in London this morning.
The eighth round of negotiations took on fresh urgency after the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned that he would walk away if no deal is agreed by October 15th – just five weeks from now.
Meanwhile, reports the UK is this week preparing to publish legislation that will undermine the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement have caused concern in Brussels and Dublin.
The EU President Ursula von der Leyen has warned the UK that it must honour the agreement if it wants a deal and the Tánaiste Simon Coveney has warned that undermining the agreement would be “very unwise.”
Senior government figures believe Britain is simply sabre-rattling ahead of the next round of talks.
One source told Newstalk it was the same tactics Britain has tried many times during these talks, and the government here won't be falling for it.
However, Fine Gael MEP Seán Kelly said he now believes a crash-out Brexit is likely.
“From the UK, the vibes coming from them, especially Boris Johnson talking about unravelling the Withdrawal Agreement, that is either brinkmanship or else he is intent on leaving without a deal so that doesn’t augur too well,” he said.
Meanwhile, Fianna Fáil MEP Barry Andrews also sounded a pessimistic note.
“The next progress report on implementing the Northern Ireland protocol is due at the end of September and, if there is, within reach, a free trade agreement at that stage, I am concerned that Northern Ireland will be forgotten about,” he said.
“So, I think the time is not available, I don’t think the trust is available, I don’t think the good will is there and my current assessment is that we are facing into a no-deal at the end of this year.”
Back home, Cabinet will today consider a final Brexit preparation plan with two potential outcomes – deal or no-deal.
The no-deal plan situation would see Britain trading on WTO terms from January 1st – with all the tariffs and quotas that come with that.
The document will be launched tomorrow and will outline what the government is doing and what businesses should do to prepare.
The cabinet is also due to hear an update on the COVID-19 figures.
While it's expected Ministers Paschal Donohoe and Michael McGrath may give the first indication of the scale needed for next month's budget - with Simon Coveney warning a billion euro will be needed for Brexit alone.