POST Online Media Lite Edition


Britain will have no time to resolve Ireland border issue before Brexit

Staff Writer |
The British government will not have time to implement an invisible border between Northern Ireland and Ireland before Britain withdraws from the European Union, a committee of Westminster MPs said in a report.

Article continues below

In the new report, the House of Commons Northern Ireland Affairs Committee expressed concern over lack of progress in finding a solution to the land border post-Brexit, pointing out there was no technical solution to render the border invisible.

A frictionless border between the two sides is one of the key elements of the 1998 Belfast Agreement that ended decades of conflict and violence in Northern Ireland.

British Prime Minister Theresa May insists there will be no physical border posts after Brexit.

The MPs' report calls on the government to do more to clarify the rules, processes and technical measures that will allow the current frictionless border arrangements to continue.

The report focuses on the fundamental question of how Britain's decision to leave the European Single Market and Customs Union can be reconciled with avoiding a hard border in Northern Ireland.

"The UK Government has repeatedly underlined that the free movement of people across the border will not be affected, and that no physical infrastructure will be put in place.

"However, the Committee was unable to identify any border solution currently in operation across the globe that would enable physical infrastructure to be avoided when rules and tariffs diverge," it said.

The report concludes that the government's proposals are imaginative but it will not have time to implement a new non-visible customs regime before the withdrawal day.

The committee rejected any proposals for customs checks which would result in a customs border down the Irish Sea, saying this would create a costly barrier to trade with Northern Ireland's largest market and would be incompatible with the spirit and intent of the Belfast Agreement.

Andrew Murrison, chair of the committee, said: "Brexit's success or otherwise hinges on the UK-Ireland border. Everyone agrees that the border after Brexit must look and feel as it does today."

"However, we have heard no evidence to suggest that there is currently a technical solution that would avoid infrastructure at the border. Furthermore, we have no detail on how checks on goods and people will be undertaken away from the border," he said.

What to read next

UK could opt to apply same trade tariffs as EU after Brexit
UK seeks temporary customs union with EU
EU lawmaker doubts Brexit talks will move to next phase in December