Sunday 18 February 2018

'Not beyond wit of man' to solve Border issue, says Johnson

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson Picture: REUTERS/Ints Kalnins
British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson Picture: REUTERS/Ints Kalnins
Colm Kelpie

Colm Kelpie

Finding a solution to the Border post-Brexit is achievable, UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has insisted.

Just a day after Britain was warned it must not treat the Irish Border as an experimental "test case" as it grapples with its relationship with Europe post-Brexit, Mr Johnson suggested it could be resolved.

He said a solution was "not beyond the wit of man".

Asked if he was confident that Britain would get a deal with the EU, Mr Johnson said: "Absolutely, with rock solid confidence."

On Thursday, the European Union's chief Brexit negotiator admitted he was concerned by Britain's plans for the Border arrangement and urged more "creative proposals".

The comments from Michel Barnier highlighted the gulf with the UK on the sensitive issue of the 500km Border, which is crossed by 30,000 people each day.

He pulled no punches at a Brussels press conference as he accused the UK of wanting the European Union to suspend the application of its laws, the customs union and single market, thereby creating a new external EU border.

Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney said he believed that Britain should stay in the customs union.

"Britain is the one leaving. They have an obligation to try to design unique solutions," he said.

"We cannot have a physical Border on the island of Ireland again that creates barriers between communities.

"We cannot and will not support that, and nor will the European Union."

Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald has said any reintroduction of the Border, however much people think it could be managed or mitigated, would represent a reversal of the direction of the peace process.

Meanwhile, the number of Irish businesses that fear a negative impact from Brexit has risen to 40pc, a survey by consultants BDO suggests.

The news comes just 14 months after the Brexit referendum, when only 20pc of Irish businesses believed Brexit would impact negatively.

Michael Costello, BDO's managing partner, said the prospect of Brexit having an adverse effect on the Irish market was becoming clearer for businesses in Ireland.

"This survey reveals that previous frustration over the lack of information from Government is now changing to a feeling of concern among Irish businesses.

"As the consequences of Brexit become more apparent for Irish businesses, we are encouraging them to engage proactively in scenario planning and assess the possible impact that Brexit will have on their business.

"We are advising clients to analyse their supply chains."

Irish Independent

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