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Ireland will not help Britain design border, Leo Varadkar says

From Belfast Telegraph

Ireland will not help Britain design an economic border for Brexiteers, premier Leo Varadkar said.

The Taoiseach declared his opposition to creating such a frontier during a robust intervention in Dublin. He said the onus was on the British government to say how it would work.

The boundary between Northern Ireland and the Republic represents the UK’s only land border with an EU country and is a major issue for negotiators in Brussels.

Mr Varadkar said: “What we’re not going to do is to design a border for the Brexiteers because they’re the ones who want a border.

“It’s up to them to say what it is, say how it would work and first of all convince their own people, their own voters that this is actually a good idea.

“As far as this Government is concerned there shouldn’t be an economic border. We don’t want one.”

The Dublin administration is unconvinced by the UK’s plans to use technology to maintain the invisible land border between Northern Ireland and the Republic.

The Times newspaper suggested the Republic’s preferred option was for customs and immigration checks to be located at ports and airports instead.

Department of Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney told Irish national broadcaster RTE: ” There is no proposal that is suggesting that there be a border in the Irish Sea.”

Political leaders in Dublin, London, Belfast and Europe are agreed on the need to avoid a return to the hard border of the Northern Ireland conflict.

Its future is one of the key issues that needs to be resolved by the UK and the EU before talks begin on a new trade deal.

British ministers had proposed using measures such as surveillance cameras to allow free movement between the north and south of the island.

T heresa May’s Democratic Unionist Party allies have hit out at any suggestion of a sea border.

The party’s leader in the Commons, Nigel Dodds, said such a move would be unacceptable to the DUP, which the Prime Minister relies on to prop up her minority administration in the House of Commons.

A sea border “may give the Republic of Ireland a special economic status within Northern Ireland but the heavy price would be new barriers to trade in the UK” for Northern Irish firms.

He said: “This apparent hardening of attitudes within the Irish Government is untimely and unhelpful.

“The DUP will not tolerate a border on the Irish Sea after Brexit that makes it more difficult to live, work and travel between different parts of the United Kingdom. The Prime Minister has already reiterated this.

“At Westminster we will continue to use the influence of our 10 MPs to ensure that respect for the integrity of the UK remains at the core of the negotiations process.”

IMAGE: Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said there is “no way that the DUP would go for an option that creates a border between one part of the United Kingdom and the other”

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