United Kingdom 'close to Irish border solution' post-Brexit

Labour MP Kate Hoey and DUP assembly member Christopher Stalford

The issue is a major sticking point in the negotiations and must be dealt with before trade talks can begin.

A mis-step by May could bring down the British government or spook British businesses fearful of a cliff-edge Brexit without a transition deal.

Clearly, Ireland wants the post-Brexit arrangement to be as close the the status quo as possible, with no border infrastructure in particular.

"We are looking for significantly more clarity than we now have from the British negotiating team", Coveney told parliament in Dublin, adding that "constructive ambiguity" from Britain would not suffice.

MPs have said a return of border checks between the Republic of Ireland and the north seems "inevitable" after Britain leaves the European Union.

Kate Hoey with Nigel Farage in London during the EU referendum campaign
Kate Hoey with Nigel Farage in London during the EU referendum campaign

The new Irish Deputy Prime Minister Simon Coveney December 1 welcomed the reported proposal and confirmed to media outlets Dublin was in talks with Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland, which shares power with British Prime Minister Theresa May's Conservatives on the proposals. "The area that we've focused in on is the need to give reassurance that there will not be regulatory divergence between the two jurisdictions on the island of Ireland, because if there is, then it is very hard to avoid a checking system".

The party ratcheted up the pressure on Thursday by suggesting it might withdraw its support for May's government.

As Brexit negotiations finally whir into life in the wake of the United Kingdom government's divorce bill agreement, Prime Minister Theresa May is now struggling to reconcile the divergent demands of Brussels, Ireland and her junior Democratic Unionist partners in respect of the Northern Irish border and the European Customs Union.

Efforts to reach a deal are to intensify with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to hold talks with European Council President Donald Tusk in Dublin tomorrow.

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