Theresa May to visit Northern Ireland border in last-ditch bid to sell Brexit plan
Theresa May is set to visit the Northern Ireland border tomorrow in a last-ditch bid to sell her Brexit blueprint to the country.
The Prime Minister will also spend time peddling the plan in Belfast as her Chequers deal and Brexit white paper threatens to tear her government apart.
Ahead of the trip she vowed not to impose a hard border on the island or in the Irish Sea as she promised to “preserve the integrity of the UK’s internal market and Northern Ireland’s place within it”.
Mrs May has been hit with howls of outrage from the Conservative party and 10 resignations from government posts since she hammered out the Chequers plan with the Cabinet two weeks ago.
Pro-Brexit Tory MPs argue it lays out too soft a relationship with the EU - with plans for a ‘facilitated customs arrangement’ to keep the Irish border open.
The Prime Minister will head to the border tomorrow to meet businesses and will deliver a speech in Belfast on Friday to explain how the plan serves the region.
In a statement today, she promised to protect “the ability to move freely across the border to trade, live and work on a daily basis” with no infrastructure or checks at the border.
And she reiterated her pledge not to create a new border in the Irish Sea - a fear among the DUP MPs who prop up her minority government.
“From the start of the negotiations, the UK Government has put Northern Ireland’s unique circumstances at the heart of our negotiations,” Mrs May said.
“And nothing will undermine our commitment to protecting the Belfast Agreement.”
The facilitated customs arrangement would see the UK collecting tariffs on behalf of the EU to ensure goods coming into the UK cannot be smuggled tariff-free across the Irish border.
But leading eurosceptic MP Jacob Rees-Mogg has urged Mrs May to call the EU’s bluff over its warnings that a hard border would be needed without a customs deal.