The decision of the April European Council to extend the Article 50 process until 31 October 2019, at the request of Prime Minister May, reduced significantly the risk of an immediate no deal UK withdrawal from the EU. However, the deepening political impasse in the UK since then, and the failure to date of the UK Parliament to ratify the Withdrawal Agreement, has raised the risk of a no deal departure from the EU in October. This scenario remains a serious concern and we are preparing accordingly.
The Government, across all Departments, will continue its planning, both at home and at EU level, for all possible scenarios. Government Departments and State Agencies have been preparing for Brexit since the 2016 referendum in the UK and will continue to do so, through extensive contingency planning and stakeholder engagement.
The immediate focus since December 2018 has been on ensuring the necessary contingency measures are in place to limit the potential negative impacts of a no deal Brexit. Much of this work, details of which were published in the Government's December 2018 Brexit Contingency Action Plan and subsequent updates, will continue to be relevant in any Brexit scenario. The period afforded by the agreed extension is being used to further deepen our no deal responses and to and add to or refine completed measures to maximise readiness for a no deal scenario. Many of the preparatory measures undertaken by businesses are good general business practice, and would be of benefit in any scenario.
The Deputy will be aware that legislative provisions have been passed by the Oireachtas in the Withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union (Consequential Provisions) Act 2019 and remain ready to be deployed if and when required.
Brexit, in whatever form it takes, will have a significant impact on Ireland. Government, businesses and citizens must make the necessary preparations to minimise its impact on our trade and our economy. We are determined to be as ready as we can be, whatever the outcome of the Brexit process.