Nigel Dodds believes Dublin’s contingency plan for the UK leaving the EU without a deal shows there would not be any border checks on goods, meaning a hard border will not happen. Mr Dodds added the European Commission “avoids spelling out what happens on the border” in their planning. The Belfast North MP said the lack of action on behalf of the EU and Ireland indicated the two believe a hard border is easily avoidable and the backstop is not necessary.
Speaking to the Irish Times, he asked: “What does that tell you? Even in the event of a so-called no deal scenario a hard border won’t happen.”
“The notion that it’s necessary to have a border and checks in the Irish Sea to avoid a border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic is an utter con trick.”
He added the “utter hypocrisy of those espousing the current withdrawal agreement with its trap of a backstop has been completely exposed”.
Ireland’s Taoiseach Leo Varadkar confirmed Dublin was not planning for a hard border, saying that while a no deal outcome is possible he did not think it was a “probability”, sticking to the EU’s rhetoric that the Withdrawal Agreement will be passed.
However Mr Varadkar warned that avoiding a hard border would be difficult if Theresa May can not get a deal agreed by March 29.
The Taoiseach said: “What is certain to me is in order to avoid a hard border you must have alignment on customs and regulations.
“So it’s all very well for people to say that nobody wants a hard border.
“Nobody wants it in Dublin, nobody wants it in Belfast, nobody wants it in Brussels or London.
“But if you don’t have alignment on customs and regulations then you get into real difficulties.”
Mr Varadkar added the UK would adopt World Trade Organisation trade rules if there was no deal which could lead to a smooth border.
He added: “If the UK crashed out of the European Union at the end of March they would still be aligned on customs and regulations.
“So the problem would only arise if they decided in some way to change their customs and regulations.
Ireland’s leader added: “And that’s where it could get difficult.
“But that is something obviously we are going to have to talk to them about in a No Deal scenario.
“And it is also something we would have to talk to our European partners about.”
On Thursday hardline Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg also said Ireland’s actions indicated the Irish backstop problem was overblown.
Mr Rees-Mogg said that if Ireland had no intention of setting up customs checkpoints along the politically-sensitive frontier, there is no need for the contentious Irish backstop element of Theresa May’s deal.
He tweeted: “No deal means no hard border so no need for the backstop.”