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Irish border row reignites after EU's Brexit plans emerge

Liz Bates

2 min read

The row over post-Brexit customs arrangements on the island of Ireland has reignited after leaked plans look set to divide the UK.

In a draft document laying out the EU’s legal framework for the Brexit divorce deal, Theresa May’s commitment to keeping Northern Ireland aligned with the rest of Britain have been omitted.

Instead the proposals reopen the prospect of a customs border in the Irish Sea.        

It comes after Irish foreign minister Simon Coveney said he was of "one mind" with the EU's Brexit negotiators after meeting with Michel Barnier in Brussels yesterday.

Mr Coveney added that the contents of the document – which will be published tomorrow – were "faithful and true" to the Brexit terms agreed in December 2017.

However, the DUP reacted furiously to the developments, accusing Dublin of forcing the change and saying it would lead to a ‘no deal’ Brexit.  

The DUP’s Ian Paisley Jnr tweeted at Mr Coveney: “If you persist, WTO rules will follow. It is the ROI that has more to lose from what he calls a “hard Brexit”. Tariffs into U.K. Will crucify the ROI. Simon don’t work against us."

Downing Street also expressed concern at the apparent shift, suggesting it could spark a standoff between Brussels and the Prime Minister. 

A Number 10 spokesman said: “The integrity of the UK must be protected."

While a Downing Street source added: “We are going to have a big argument about this on Wednesday."

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