Irish government ministers have met to dust off contingency plans in case disagreements between Britain and the European Union trigger major trade disruption, deputy prime minister Leo Varadkar said on Tuesday.
The European Union last week said that Britain had made no move to seek a compromise on post-Brexit trade with Northern Ireland and cautioned London against triggering emergency unilateral provisions in the Brexit deal.
"We had a meeting yesterday of the Cabinet subcommittee on Brexit essentially to dust down and restart our contingency preparations should we get into difficulty," Varadkar told state broadcaster RTÉ. "We're making preparations."
If Britain steps away from the Northern Ireland Protocol and its wider EU divorce deal, the EU "would have no option other than to introduce what we call rebalancing measures to respond", Varadkar said.
Asked if the European Union could or should also consider suspending the post-Brexit trade deal, the Trade and Cooperation Agreement, Varadkar said it was something the EU commission "is going to have to consider".
Varadkar said he hoped an escalation could be avoided.
"Prime Minister Johnson always spoke about wanting Brexit done. Brexit is kind of done. But this potentially undoes it," Varadkar said.
"I don't think it would be good for us, for Great Britain, and I don't see how it would be good for Northern Ireland," he said.
Ireland said on Sunday the British government appears ready to invoke emergency unilateral provisions in its Brexit deal governing Northern Ireland's trading arrangements, a move that would sour ties with Dublin, the EU and the United States.