N.Ireland Brexit solution ‘cannot create new border’

Britain’s chief Brexit negotiator David Davis insisted Friday that any Brexit deal with the European Union cannot create a border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom. “We recognize the need for specific solutions for the unique circumstances of Northern Ireland,” Davis told reporters after the end of the sixth round of talks with his EU counterpart Michel Barnier, in which the fate of the Ireland border was a key issue.

“But let me be clear, this cannot amount to creating a new border inside the United Kingdom,” he said. Davis delivered his warning as it emerged that the EU called at the talks this week for Northern Ireland to effectively stay in a customs union with the bloc to prevent a hard border with Ireland.

This would create a highly unusual situation of having Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom, obey the rules of the EU’s single market and customs union in order to avoid the return of checkpoints on the border with the Republic of Ireland, sources said.

The question of the Irish border is one of three key divorce issues that the European Union insists must be resolved before talks with Britain can move on to discussing a post-Brexit trade deal. Britain insists it will leave the single market and customs union in 2019, creating a puzzle about how to keep the open border that has helped underpin Northern Ireland’s Good Friday peace agreement.

Davis said that Britain was “resolutely committed” to uphold the Good Friday peace deal, but that all challenges needed to be approached “in the spirit of pragmatism, creativity and a high degree political sensibility”. “We owe that to the people of Northern Ireland and Ireland to do so,” he said

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