Senior MPs warn hard Irish border inevitable under Government Brexit plans

Posted On: 
1st December 2017

A hard border between the Republic and Northern Ireland is all-but inevitable under the Government's Brexit plans, according to senior MPs.

The question of the Irish border is the main sticking point in the Brexit negotiations.
PA Images

The Brexit select committee, which is scrutinising the EU Withdrawal Bill, says Theresa May's determination to quit the EU single market and customs union means it is impossible to see how a border can be avoided.

Irish prime minister Leo Varadkar has warned that Dublin will veto any attempts to move onto the next phase of Brexit negotiations unless he receives written guarantees that the current invisible border will be maintained once Britain leaves the EU.

UK and EU 'close to a breakthrough' on Irish border issue

Labour MP Kate Hoey says Ireland will have to pay for post-Brexit hard border

Internal UK barriers a larger threat to peace in Northern Ireland than hard border – DUP MEP

But the DUP has said it will pull the plug on its confidence and supply deal with the Conservatives if Mrs May allows any customs divergence between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

The Government has suggested using as-yet unknown technology to track goods crossing the border without the need for customs posts.

But Brexit committee chairman Hilary Benn MP said: "Our report concludes that we cannot at present see how leaving the customs union and the single market can be reconciled with there being no border or infrastructure.

"Even by their own admission, the Government’s proposals are untested and speculative, so it has yet to set out how no border can in practice be maintained with the UK outside the single market and the customs union."

The committee has also called on the Government to publish a white paper on the post-Brexit implementation period as soon as possible after next month's crunch European Council summit in Brussels.

Mr Benn said: "We hope that the December Council will conclude that sufficient progress has been made so that the talks can move on to our future relationship. Businesses need certainty and reassurance to stop firms triggering contingency plans which could see activities and jobs move abroad.

"Ministers assured us that detailed arrangements for the implementation period could be published by March 2018. This deadline must be achieved."