A special advisor to the President of the European Commission has poured cold water on plans by the Government to ensure the North maintains a link to the customs union after Brexit.
atherine Day, a former secretary general of the European Commission and now adviser to Jean Claude Juncker, said the process of how and where border checks are carried out, in the event of a hard Brexit, would be open to "flexible solutions".
But she said it wouldn't work to have Northern Ireland linked to the customs union while the rest of the UK is out of it, as proposed by Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney in an interview with this newspaper last week. "I don't see how part of a non-member state can be part of the customs union," Ms Day told a Brexit event at the Institute of International and European Affairs (IIEA).
"Politically I think that would also be difficult for London. As an option, I don't see it existing. Let's say the British leave the customs union, and in 15 years' time, they do this less attractive trade deal with any other part of the world. Which rules would they apply to Northern Ireland? The EU rules, or the British rules, it just doesn't work." Mr Coveney said the Government will be pushing for a special deal, with "unique status" for the North.