Saturday 21 September 2019

Theresa May: 'UK and EU agree there should be no physical infrastructure at border in Ireland'

British Prime Minister Theresa May Photo: Jeff J Mitchell/PA
British Prime Minister Theresa May Photo: Jeff J Mitchell/PA
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

British Prime Minister Theresa May has said both the UK and EU agree that there should be no physical infrastructure at the Irish border.

And she said it's "vital" that the Peace Process in the North was not affected in any way by Brexit talks.

Mrs May made her remarks after leaving a European Council breakfast in Brussels.

The remaining 27 leaders of EU Member States then discussed their deliberations on progress in the Brexit talks without her.

Council President Donald Tusk has indicated that while not enough progress has been made in phase one of the negotiations for the talks to move on to discussions on trade with the UK, the remaining EU countries will begin internal consideration of the matter without Britain.

He took to Twitter to say: "Brexit conclusions adopted. Leaders green-light internal EU27 preparations for 2nd phase".

Mrs May told reporters that Britain's cooperation with the EU won't end after March 2019 and that the UK will remain a "committed partner" to Europe.

Despite the failure to move on to the next stage of the Brexit talks she said: "I am ambitious and positive for Britain’s future after these negotiations" but conceded: "I know we still have some way to go."

She said both sides share the objective of safeguarding citizen's rights.

Mrs May also said: "On Northern Ireland we have agreed that the Belfast Agreement must be at the heart of our negotiations and that Northern Ireland’s unique circumstances demands specific solutions.

"The vital and joint work on the Peace Process is not affected in any way. It is too important for that," she added.

The prime minister continued: "both sides agree that there cannot be any physical infrastructure at the border and that the Common Travel Area must continue."

"We are both committed to delivering a flexible and imaginative approach on this vital issue," She said.

Earlier Taoiseach Leo Varadkar noted that Mrs May had "strengthened" her language on the border but said the UK still needs to provide more detail on how the border will work in future.

He said progress is being made in the talks.

"Prime Minister May made a really strong speech at dinner last night and I was very heartened by what she had to say.

"She spoke again about the unique issues in Ireland and Northern Ireland and said that the United Kingdom wouldn't accept a physical border in Ireland.

"That was very strong language. Unfortunately it's not yet backed up by detail but it was very welcome," Mr Varadkar said.

He added: "There are still delays on the three main issues, on the financial settlement, on citizens' rights and on Irish specific issues but I think we are inching forward and are making some progress."

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