May insists Britain leaving EU customs union

James Marshall
May 17, 2018

The Belfast Agreement says the Northern secretary shall exercise the power to direct the holding of a Border poll "if at any time it appears likely to him that a majority of those voting would express a wish that Northern Ireland should cease to be part of the United Kingdom and form part of a united Ireland".

Britain's Northern Ireland minister Karen Bradley said on Wednesday that there will be no new cameras on the border on the island of Ireland after Brexit.

"We are committed to no new physical infrastructure at the border, no new checks or controls at the border", Bradley said.

He added that it was an "absolute red line" for Ireland not to have a hard border on the island and all 27 remaining European Union states supported the current "backstop" proposal in the Withdrawal Agreement - which Mrs May has said no British prime minister could accept.

The Daily Telegraph reported that Britain will tell the European Union it is prepared to stay tied to the customs union beyond 2021 as a last resort to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland.

Arriving at the Sofia summit the Taoiseach 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".

Mrs May tucked in to breakfast with her fellow EU leaders as the summit got under way today
Mrs May tucked in to breakfast with her fellow EU leaders as the summit got under way today

If no better ideas emerge, the bloc wants the backstop clause under which it would go on regulating trade in Northern Ireland after Brexit to prevent a hard border.

Sinn Féin deputy leader Michelle O'Neill said if the reports were accurate, Ms May was "conceding that the Good Friday Agreement threshold for triggering a unity poll has been met".

May has said as it stood in March, the EU's backstop was unacceptable because it would cut off Northern Ireland from the rest of the United Kingdom.

Even if the back-stop arrangement was triggered, Britain would be able to implement new trade deals because the country would be outside the EU's economic architecture, the source said.

Anti-Brexit demonstrators wave EU and Union flags outside the Houses of Parliament in London, Britain, January 30, 2018.

The border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland remains an obstacle on the Brexit talks' agenda as the UK's exit from the European Union may create difficulties for the free movement of goods and workers between the Republic of Ireland and the UK's Northern Irish counties.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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