DUP rule out Brexit customs barrier for Northern Ireland

26 Novembre, 2017, 00:21 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • DUP rule out Brexit customs barrier for Northern Ireland

EU officials expect the crunch to come when May returns on Monday, December 4, to meet the EU chief executive, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, and his chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier.

"This is. unsafe politically at a time when the country does not need an election", he said, in an apparent reference to the December EU summit.

But, added the former Polish premier who chairs the bloc's summit meetings, that was "still a huge challenge".

He said British assurances on the issue were "aspirational" and that there had to be a "credible roadmap" from the United Kingdom setting out how they would ensure there was no return to a hard border.

"Certainly in respect of the Stormont talks I assume that if an election as called in the Republic of Ireland that Sinn Fein's focus will be entirely on Dublin and the elections down there", said Mrs Foster.

Britain, Brussels and Ireland are all trying to strike a deal which avoids the imposition of a hard border between the latter and Northern Ireland.

Theresa May told reporters that "There are still issues across the various matters that we are negotiating to be resolved".

"We are not talking about a "no deal" here".

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For months, the EU's demand for Britain to pay something like 60 billion euros ($72 billion) has seemed the toughest nut to crack.

One of the key sticking points is a proposed piece of legislation to protect Irish language speakers in the region. The chances of sufficient progress in December were only 50-50.

This vote of no confidence could break the "confidence and supply" just before vital EU Brexit summit.

Before Foster's address Sammy Wilson, the DUP MP for East Antrim, raised one of the biggest cheers of the day when he described Ireland's prime minister, Leo Varadkar, and the Irish foreign minister, Simon Coveney, as a "pair of cowboys".

Coveney - who accused the government's opponents of being irresponsible in calling a no-confidence motion for Tuesday over an unrelated issue - said Ireland would not agree to opening European Union trade talks with Britain if it was unhappy over the border.

Democratic Unionist leader Arlene Foster has vowed to block any attempt to create a border in the Irish sea between Northern Ireland and the British mainland during Brexit negotiations.

With the United Kingdom committed to withdrawing from customs union and the single market, Mr Coveney said it was hard to see how they could avoid border checks if it resulted in "regulatory divergence" between the North and the Republic. The island has been politically split in two since 1922, following the Irish war for independence, which resulted in the creation of the then Irish Free State (now the Republic) and Northern Ireland.

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