DUP: Prime Minister's open border plan a basis for progress

  • DUP: Prime Minister's open border plan a basis for progress

DUP: Prime Minister's open border plan a basis for progress

The EU draft proposal on the Brexit withdrawal agreement suggests a common customs area in the island of Ireland, drawing fierce criticism from London, which accused EU negotiators of trying to break up the UK's constitutional order.

London pledged a year ago to find a solution that would avoid customs checks at the border between Northern Ireland (part of the UK) and Ireland (part of the EU).

He said he would ask the Prime Minister at their meeting in London whether or not the United Kingdom had "a better idea that would be as effective in preventing a hard border" as that set out in Brussels' draft withdrawal agreement, which was categorically rejected as unacceptable by her yesterday.

She said: "It is not good enough to say "we won't introduce a hard border, if the European Union forces Ireland to do it, that's down to them".

Barnier dismissed suggestions that the draft was an attempt to "shock" Britons into concluding a deal, insisting that his sole goal was to avoid a disorderly divorce.

"The point of the meeting was to have a genuine discussion before the prime minister finalized the text", Slack told reporters in London.

If adopted by the remaining EU 27 countries at the next EU Council summit in March, the guidelines will become the mandate for EU Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier as Brexit talks progress later this year.

"EU draft text is constitutionally unacceptable and would be economically catastrophic for Northern Ireland", the Democratic Unionist Party's Arlene Foster said on Twitter. "It is illusory to imagine we will accept cherry-picking", he said of the idea that Britain could maintain European Union regulations in some sectors, while diverging in others.

He said the EU want to support the British government on an Option A, but, he said, it is hard to see that being done if the British government continues to pursue the insistence of leaving the customs union and single market.

If a future trade deal isn't comprehensive enough to avoid a hard border on Ireland then Northern Ireland will remain aligned with the Republic of Ireland.

Unionists fear that raising new barriers with the British mainland could increase the chances of a future move to reunite the province with Ireland, an European Union member.

Because of outstanding disagreements, Barnier maintained that a transition period is not a given; something that will certainly be weighing on Sterling and it remains the case that Northern Ireland is the key source of contention that could drive a failure to reach an agreement.

It comes as British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has claimed the issue of the border is being used to try to keep Britain in a customs union with the European Union and frustrate Brexit.

Britain wants the border issue settled as part of an overall EU-UK trade deal which Brussels will only start discussing with it in April.

May's spokesman said her ministers had agreed with her that her speech would be "a real step forward in the negotiations".