UK’s Irish border plans ‘impossible’: committee

London – Border checks between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland seem inevitable after the UK leaves the European Union, according to a British parliamentary committee.

The Exiting the EU Committee, a panel of MPs scrutinising the Brexit ministry, said the government’s decision to withdraw from the European single market and the customs union seemed impossible to reconcile with its declared intention to maintain a “frictionless” Irish border.

The fate of the frontier between the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland, which is part of the UK, is now the biggest sticking point in the bid to move Brexit negotiations on to trade talks at a EU summit in December.

The parliamentary committee said the British government’s proposals for handling the issue, including using technology to create a “light touch” border, were “untested and to some extent speculative”.

“We do not currently see how it will be possible to reconcile there being no border with the government’s policy of leaving the single market and the customs union, which will inevitably make the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland the EU’s customs border with the UK,” the panel said Friday.

EU President Donald Tusk will fly to Dublin on Friday for talks with Ireland’s prime minister, Tusk’s spokesman said, in an attempt to resolve the thorniest issue holding up a Brexit deal with Britain.

At the December 14-15 EU summit in Brussels, leaders will decide if Britain has made “sufficient progress” on divorce issues.

Parliament’s Brexit scrutiny committee said the government should work to ensure goods flow freely at UK borders regardless of whether a departure deal can be struck before Britain leaves the EU in March 2019.

 

Why is the Irish border so important and what are the options post-Brexit

 

It urged the government to explain its strategy for enacting a two-year transition period after Britain pulls out.

It also said the rights of EU nationals living in the UK and vice-versa should be guaranteed, regardless of whether there was a wider deal.

Not all members of the committee backed its report. Some pro-Brexit MPs from Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservative Party declined to support it.