Northern Ireland must remain part of customs union after Brexit - EU
Leaked documents from the European Commission show that the EU will demand that Northern Ireland remains part of the customs union to avoid a hard border post-Brexit.
The issue of Ireland and the possible reintroduction of a physical border is one of the key topics to be negotiated between the UK and EU ahead of the former’s departure from the bloc in 2019.
Theresa May’s government has said it will not consider an option for the region to remain part of the single market, which would mean Britain’s trade border with the EU would not be overland.
The documents, which were seen by The Financial Times, concluded that there could be no reintroduction of a border as it would be “essential” to protect the peace process.
“It consequently seems essential for the UK to commit to ensuring that a hard Border on the island of Ireland is avoided, including by ensuring no emergence of regulatory divergence from those rules of the internal market and the customs union,” the paper says.
The border issue had been shelved in the early part of negotiations as the EU continued to demand that a financial settlement be agreed before any other topic could make an advance.
Earlier this week secretary of state James Brokenshire said it was “impossible” for NI to remain part of the single market while the rest of the UK stayed outside.
“We need to ensure that nothing is done that undermines the integrity of the UK single market,” Brokenshire said. “I find it difficult to image how Northern Ireland could somehow remain in while the rest of the country leaves. I find it impossible.”