IRELAND’S EU commissioner yesterday threatened that his country will continue to ‘play tough’ on the border issue, claiming that the solution is for the UK to stay in the Customs Union after Brexit.
Phil Hogan, the EU’s agriculture commissioner, is demanding guarantees that there will not be a hard border between the Republic and the North after the UK leaves the EU. The EU has given PM May until next Monday, 4th December, to come up with further proposals on issues including the border, the Brexit divorce bill and citizens’ rights, if European leaders are to agree to moving on to trade talks.
Hogan’s warning came after, Arlene Foster, leader of the Democratic Unionist Party which is propping up the Tory government, told the DUP conference on Saturday that there will be no moving of the border to the Irish Sea to overcome the problem.
She told delegates: ‘We will not support any arrangements that create barriers to trade between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom or any suggestion that Northern Ireland, unlike the rest of the UK, will have to mirror European regulations.’
Irish EU commissioner Hogan warned that Ireland will ‘continue to play tough until the end’ and claimed that remaining in the single market and customs union would end the standoff. ‘If the UK or Northern Ireland remained in the EU customs union, or better still the single market, there would be no border issue. That’s a very simple fact,’ he claimed.
Meanwhile, a leaked document composed by the EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier reveals that he is demanding that any UK transition deal must be conditional on Britain’s ‘automatic’ acceptance of new Brussels regulations which would apply during a two-year period after Brexit in March 2019. The plan, set out to EU leaders behind closed doors, would leave the UK with no say over rules it accepts during the ‘transition’.
• Party leader, Arlene Foster, told the DUP Annual Conference that Sinn Féin must choose between making a deal with them or having direct rule ministers in place. Foster said: ‘Time is short and those in Sinn Féin blocking the restoration of local decision-making need to decide whether they want to do business with us or have direct rule ministers in place.’
Responding, Sinn Féin’s northern leader, Michelle O’Neill, said she and her party ‘remain committed to making the institutions work,’ but said: ‘They must operate on the basis agreed 20 years ago. A majority of citizens in the north expect and are entitled to the same rights enjoyed by citizens across these islands; language and marriage equality rights, due process in all aspects of the legal and judicial system, including inquests.’