“If the British Government thinks that reneging on international treaty obligations makes them look more attractive to 3rd countries for trade deals, then I worry for us all,” said Fianna Fáil MEP Billy Kelleher.

Kelleher was reacting to reports that the British Government is preparing domestic legislation that will seek to bypass commitments contained in the Withdrawal Agreement, including, crucially, elements of the Northern Ireland Protocol.

“Quite frankly, when I first heard these rumours, I thought it was a wind-up. Honestly, what country would actively seek to undermine their reputation as a credible and trustworthy negotiating party by openly attempting to circumvent existing treaty commitments?

“Added to the latest pronouncement by British PM, Boris Johnson, that if a deal is not secured by October 15th then negotiations will conclude this is an incredibly worrying time for Ireland, the rest of the EU and indeed the UK.

“No good can come from this level of brinkmanship. Peoples’ livelihoods are being bartered away by the Tories in a way reminiscent of the 18th or 19th century and not of the modern era.

“The EU Chief Negotiator, Michel Barnier must stand firm and resolute. However, I do believe, at its heart, these tactics are nothing more than negotiating ploys to win advantage.

“While this hopefully may ultimately end up being the case, the Irish Government must ramp up its preparations for such an outcome – a No Deal Brexit.

“It would be incredibly unpalatable but we must be prepared for every eventuality. The Taoiseach should also begin negotiations with the EU Commission about an enhanced recovery plan for the Irish economy if the British Government insists on a disorderly, damaging No Deal Brexit.

“There is a growing realisation and willingness among our EU friends and colleagues that Ireland must be protected if Britain continues along this path,” concluded Kelleher.