Brexit rebels make proposals on Irish border issue

Reuters, LONDON

Thu, Sep 13, 2018 - Page 1

Brexit-supporting rebels in British Prime Minister Theresa May’s party yesterday made proposals that they said would allow trade to flow over the Irish border, while safeguarding the integrity of the EU’s single market.

The issue of preventing a hard border between the UK’s Northern Ireland and the EU’s Irish Republic is one of the main outstanding sticking points in negotiations between London and Brussels.

Both sides want to avoid such a hard border, because it could undermine a 1998 peace agreement that ended decades of sectarian conflict in the north, but it is still unclear how goods crossing between the EU and the UK in Ireland would be monitored once the UK has left the EU’s customs union and the single market.

Lawmakers from the influential anti-EU European Research Group (ERG), who oppose May’s Brexit plan in favor of a cleaner break with the EU, said existing systems and technology could be used, and any extra checks could take place away from the border.

“Rational, pragmatic approaches can ensure that the vital trade across the border is maintained. This allows the United Kingdom to conduct an independent trade policy without threatening the integrity of the EU single market,” the ERG said in a report.

Existing electronic procedures allow customs declarations to be made ahead of travel, inspections can be done at the point of shipment and any additional declarations could be incorporated into the existing system used to return value-added tax, the group said.