Veteran Brexiteer Blames London for Failing to Ensure Security on Irish Border

18 May, 2018, 16:09 | Author: Mable Gonzales
  • Brexit - UK seeking previously unthought of 'third way' around the Northern Ireland customs border impasse

The British government is considering staying aligned to the EU's customs union for years after a post-Brexit transition period if it can not resolve the Irish border issue, newspaper reports said Thursday.

Controversy surrounds the existing "backstop", which would require "alignment" on customs rules between Northern Ireland and the Republic, risking a border in the Irish Sea that has raised fears about a weakening of the Union.

The main topic for concern according to European Union is to come up with a resolution at the Ireland border about management of custom operations ignoring which can also lead to unrest at the borders. No 10 sources said last night that there was no plan to stay "in" a customs union and that this week's Brexit war cabinet discussed only the Northern Ireland fallback plan, not post-Brexit customs arrangements. But Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar indicated she was suggesting some form of close alignment with the European Union customs regime without actual membership.

She also singled out the British government's "practical" stance pertaining to the ways to grapple with the sensitive issue of Northern Irish border.

May has insisted the United Kingdom will be leaving the EU customs union after Brexit and has rejected the EU's suggestion that Northern Ireland remain inside the bloc in order to maintain trade flows with the Irish Republic to the south. EU officials had previously expressed skepticism about the government's latest ideas.

Under the plan reported in The Times and The Telegraph, the government's new "backstop" would see the whole country remain aligned with the EU.

The Irish Government and the EU negotiating task force headed by Michel Barnier would welcome the full alignment. Pic Getty Images
The Irish Government and the EU negotiating task force headed by Michel Barnier would welcome the full alignment. Pic Getty Images

"Negotiations are continuing on what a workable backstop would be".

He said: "If we are not making real and substantial progress by June then we need to seriously question whether we're going to have a Withdrawal Agreement at all".

European Union leaders meeting May in Sofia on Thursday were "in listening mode" and hoping for reassurances from her, said one official, before a formal summit in June when the sides want to mark another milestone in the negotiations.

The Prime Minister earlier denied "climbing down" on leaving the customs union, amid speculation the departure could be delayed for years until a replacement system is established.

Government sources have told the BBC's political editor, Laura Kuenssberg, that the newly-agreed proposal was very unlikely to be needed - as they are confident a customs deal that avoids bringing back a hard border can be agreed with the EU.

Serious legal obstacles to the complex "customs partnership" plan could therefore emerge, and the government would not have time to resolve them before Brexit day, Mr. Davis has reportedly pointed out. They want a deal by October so parliaments can ratify it.

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