Brexit department to propose giving Ireland joint EU and UK status

By Caoimhe Toman

Date: Friday 01 Jun 2018

Brexit department to propose giving Ireland joint EU and UK status

(Sharecast News) - The UK may propose giving Northern Ireland joint UK and European Union status in order to avoid a hard border on the island.
Such an arrangement might allow Westminster to break the deadlock in Brexit negotiations, paving the way for the UK to leave the block once a withdrawal deal is agreed.

Nevertheless, an official from the Brexit department told Reuters that it is but one of the options being discussed and it may be discarded before it is tabled in the ongoing talks with Brussels.

Under the proposal, a 10-mile trade buffer zone would be set up along the border, with local traders and farmers being granted permission to transit through it after the UK leaves the block.

A DExEU spokesman said: "We have set out two viable future customs arrangements with the EU and work is ongoing to refine these.

"Both of these would deliver on our commitments to ensure UK-EU trade is as frictionless as possible, avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland, preserve the integrity of the UK's internal market and enable us to establish an independent international trade policy."

This option would likely be criticised by the Northern Ireland party the DUP that supports Theresa May's minority government. They claim that Northern Ireland as part of the UK should have the same regulations as the rest of the regions.

The loss of the DUP's support could prove to be an insurmountable obstacle for May's government.

Martina Anderson, a member of the European Parliament for Sinn Fein, the main Irish nationalist party in Northern Ireland, also believes that the proposal would not be right way to solve the border problem: "Once again this shows the lack of knowledge of border areas and the concerns they face. The creation of a buffer zone would merely move the problem away from the border and hide a hard border in a buffer zone."

Currently, the only viable option on the table is the backstop drafted six months ago that would separate the Northern Irish economic regulatory system from the UK and keep it aligned with the EU. This option would be enforced in the case that the UK government can't propose a better idea.

The backstop option will be the one that sticks if the UK can't find an alternative.


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