United Kingdom proposes no 'hard' Irish border after Brexit


Brexit will not mean "a return to the border posts of the past" between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, the government has insisted. "This is as true for the people of Northern Ireland who are Irish citizens - or who hold both British and Irish citizenship - as it is for Irish citizens in Ireland".

The European Union replied to the paper on the same day of its release, saying the issue concerns bilateral relations and can not be addressed before sufficient progress has been made in negotiating the details of Brexit. Today's announcement will be followed tomorrow by a statement regarding the future status of Northern Ireland, which has Britain's only land border with the European Union.

"The UK has the flexibility to design its own arrangements once it leaves the frameworks set in European Union law and would always prioritise the cross-community support in Northern Ireland for a seamless border". The EU has yet to truly speculate on the probability of either proposal, as progress in negotiations over citizens' rights, the Irish border and debts to the bloc are of bigger concern.

Free movement among member states is a key European Union principle and has seen hundreds of thousands of people move to Britain and get jobs there since the bloc expanded into eastern Europe more than a decade ago. It will also push for Britain to be able to begin negotiations with new trade partners, something that members of the customs union are not able to do.

"In recent discussions with the Chancellor, the NFU reinforced the need for a transitional arrangement post-Brexit that sees the United Kingdom and EU continuing to trade within a customs union, and I'm pleased to see the government appear to accept this as the best way forward".

While both sides want to avoid obstacles to trade, Britain's desire to leave the EU's customs union, reiterated in proposals set out Tuesday (August 15), makes that tough.

Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney welcomed the "much needed clarity" provided by the paper, in particular the commitment to upholding the Northern Ireland peace process and retaining freedom of movement across the border.

The text remarked how important would be preserving the 1998 Good Friday Agreements, which put an end to over 30 years of confrontation between Irish nationalists and unionists.

SDLP Leader Colum Eastwood MLA said the British Government is still not ready, or at least unwilling, to publish serious or credible proposals on Brexit.

But it admitted there would be "an increase in administration compared with being inside the EU customs union". The second option is a "new customs partnership with the EU" such that the need for a UK-EU customs border is removed completely.