Theresa May vows no hard border with Ireland after Brexit

Erika Holt
February 6, 2019

A Department for Transport spokesman said: "While the transport secretary strongly supports work across government with the European Union to ensure a deal is reached, he will also continue to lead the DfT to ensure all contingencies are prepared for concerning Brexit".

Thirdly, take a look at this extract from Mrs May's speech: "So while I have said that technology could play a part and that we will look at alternative arrangements, these must be ones that can be made to work for the particular circumstances of Northern Ireland".

Businesses will need to register for the simplified import procedure, which will mean they have to give less information in their import declarations and will allow them to defer giving a full declaration and paying any duty.

As a way to prevent a hard border, Brussels and London agreed to a so-called backstop - basically a promise that unless the sides come up with a better idea, then the United Kingdom would remain bound by European Union market and customs rules so that goods would not have to be checked. It must be how, together, we move forwards to shape the opportunities of the future.

"We can use the remaining time to perhaps remove all the obstacles that have so far stood in the way and find an agreement - if everybody is willing", she said.

Asked by Business Insider last week whether the government was aware of any technology that could avoid the backstop, the prime minister's spokesman said that "we want to begin exploring exploring these options as soon as possible".

She continued: "We stand by our commitment in the Joint Report that there will be no hard border - including any physical infrastructure or related checks and controls".

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Sinn Fein Leader Mary Lou McDonald, centre, Martina Anderson, left, and Michelle O'Neil, right, knock down a "mock" wall on the Northern Ireland/Republic of Ireland border, near Newry on January 26.

While European Commission Secretary General Selmayr, the long-time lieutenant of President Jean-Claude Juncker, had reiterated the EU line that it would not reopen the withdrawal agreement, Labour lawmaker Hilary Benn told reporters: "I got the impression that they might be prepared to consider some additional statement or legal protocol".

The backstop is an insurance policy within the Withdrawal Agreement, created to prevent a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland in all circumstances after the United Kingdom leaves the European Union.

It appears May is very much being cornered by United Kingdom lawmakers to have the Irish backstop replaced/removed from the withdrawal agreement but this is something that the European Union would never agree to. "People on either sides of the border will be able to live their lives as they do now", she said.

"The withdrawal agreement is the best way to ensure an orderly withdrawal by the UK", Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said.

May's visit had been expected this week but a day had not been announced.

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