The Irish Prime Minister, Leo Varadkar has told the UK Government that it must avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic, honouring its commitments to the Irish Peace Process.
With the UK due to leave the EU on March 29th next year, tensions have been mounting that a deal to solve the border issue will not be reached. The EU has cited the issue of Ireland as the key reason no Brexit deal has been reached, and Theresa May has vowed to find a way to stop a hard border. And Varadkar, has said that if there is an arrangement reached, it cannot feature a time limit.
The has deepened in recent weeks due to disagreements over the agreed ‘backstop’, with questions being raised over whether it should apply to the whole of the UK or just Northern Ireland, as well as fears over a proposed ‘time limit.
Any agreement that sees the reintroduction of a hard border would inevitable break the Good Friday Agreement as it would mean goods would have to be checked when they pass through the border and there is speculation of passport checks at the border. However, if there was to be a backstop applying only to Northern Ireland and not the whole of the UK, then this would create a hard border in the sea between N.I. and the U.K., as Northern Ireland would stay in the customs union (potentially for a time-limited period).
Earlier today, the British Prime Minister, Theresa May, is reported to have called the Irish Taoiseach in order to “calm anger” across the sea over comments made by Brexit secretary Dominic Raab. Mr Raab is rumoured to have claimed there should be a time-limit of just three months on the Backstop agreement, which is said to have left Mr Varadkar deeply concerned and upset. Mrs May is claimed to have reassured him that her very own Brexit Secretary’s comments are not the UK’s policy, reemphasising her commitment to a full backstop that would work for the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland and Great Britain.