Britain 'confident' of Irish border agreement despite rebuff by Brussels

Posted On: 
20th April 2018

Ministers remain "confident" that they can reach a deal with the EU to avoid a hard Irish border, despite claims that Brussels has already rejected their proposals as "unworkable".

The EU has reportedly rejected Britain's ideas for a frictionless border in Ireland.
PA Images

According to the Daily Telegraph, senior EU diplomatic sources provided a "systematic and forensic annihilation" of the UK's ideas in talks with Olly Robbins, the UK’s lead Brexit negotiator.

Britain has suggested a "customs partnership" with the EU, or using technological solutions, as a way of avoiding physical checks at the frontier between the Republic and Northern Ireland.

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But one source told the Telegraph: "It was made clear that none of the UK’s customs options will work. None of them."

A spokesman for the Prime Minister said "we don't recognise these reports", but stopped short of saying they were untrue.

He added: "We're confident that in the coming months, if all sides work together productively we can achieve a solution to the Ireland/Northern Ireland border that works for everyone involved. The Prime Minister was clear in her speech at Mansion House that the EU and UK need to work together to agree a solution.

"You've seen throughout this process, we have made progress at the key points, whether that be phase one or securing the implementation period. We're confident we can continue."

The row comes after the House of Lords inflicted a major defeat on the Government by backing calls for the UK to stay in a customs union with the EU after Brexit.

A cross-party group of senior MPs have also scheduled a vote on a customs union in the Commons for next week.

Labour MP Stella Creasy, of the People's Vote campaign pushing for an EU referendum on the final Brexit deal, accused Theresa May of "magical thinking" over the Irish border.

"No trickery is going to get her or her government out of the hole they have dug for themselves in ruling out continued membership of the customs union and the single market," she said.

"And, after a stinging defeat in the Lords earlier this week and every sign that the Commons will next week also back continued customs union membership, it is also clear that it is not just the European Commission who have no faith in her attempts at sleight of hand."