Brexit Headache: PM Theresa May starts two-day visit to Northern Ireland

Pledge Theresa May and DUP leader Arlene Foster during a visit to the Belleek pottery factory in Fermanagh

May No hard border by Aidan Radnedge Published

Last winter the United Kingdom did agree to a backstop which promised regulatory alignment across the island in the event of a no deal Brexit - a move which allowed Brexit talks to progress at a key stage.

The EU has long complained that May has delayed the Brexit negotiations because internal bickering within her Conservative Party has brought her government to the brink of chaos.

It urged the remaining 27 member states to prepare for a chaotic Brexit, noting that customs arrangements, airline agreements and arrangements for financial transactions could end suddenly without any new plans being put in place.

"There are some elements which do seem to contradict the guidelines of the European Union", said Barnier, insisting that the bloc will not waver on essential principles like the unity of the single market.

Perhaps that is why Theresa May choose the County Fermanagh factory for her first visit to the Irish border since becoming prime minister.

U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May will reaffirm her pledge to keep the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland open following Brexit, saying the notion of a hard border is "almost inconceivable".

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She is expected to say the European Union needs to "evolve its position in kind", adding that "on that basis, I look forward to resuming constructive discussions".

Amid the ongoing power-sharing impasse at Stormont, Mrs May is meeting the five main political parties on her two day visit to Northern Ireland, which included her first visit to the Irish border since the Brexit referendum.

Mr Raab said that he was looking forward "with renewed energy, vigour and vim" to seeing the detail of the White Paper hammered out after a gruelling Cabinet conclave at Chequers.

"And, on that basis, I look forward to resuming constructive discussions".

And Sinn Fein say the Irish government must insist that the backstop agreed last December is translated into legally binding text.

Mrs May will again refuse to countenance any backstop that creates a divide between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

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Gernot Blumel, the Europe minister of Austria, which now holds the presidency of the European Council, told reporters in Brussels: "A "hard Brexit" is not off the table, but we are naturally trying to do everything we can to arrive at a solution and a course of action".

"We know that there have been amendments to different provisions in Britain which makes it even harder for us to discuss with our British partner".

May's Brexit "white paper", the policy document which prompted Johnson's resignation, proposes negotiating the closest possible commercial links for goods trade to protect businesses and to fulfil a commitment to avoid having infrastructure on the border.

The government's White Paper on Brexit has promised to maintain a frictionless border on the island of Ireland.

Ms Leadsom added: It needs to be quite clear to the European Union, "you've got to come to the table and start negotiating with serious focus and concentration and goodwill because otherwise, we will be leaving with no deal".

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