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Dublin: 9 °C Friday 23 March, 2018

'Definitely not': Varadkar pours cold water on US/Canada-style border after May comments

Theresa May said earlier that the UK was looking at solutions such as the one in North America for the Irish border issue.

TAOISEACH LEO VARADKAR has said that proposals from UK Prime Minister Theresa May for a US/Canada-style border in Northern Ireland after Brexit are “definitely not a solution”.

The Fine Gael leader was speaking this evening after May cited the US/Canada as an example to the House of Commons earlier as an example of “different arrangements for customs” that the UK was looking at post-Brexit.

Varadkar said this evening: “I didn’t hear those comments today… but I can say I visited the US/Canada border back in August and I saw a hard border with physical infrastructure.

With customs posts, people in uniforms, arms and dogs. And that is definitely not a solution that is one we can possibly entertain.

Varadkar also retweeted a tweet he had sent last August at a US-Canada border crossing, where he had said at the time that it’s a “hard border”.

Responding to questioning from Labour MP Jenny Chapman, May had said: “There are many examples of different arrangements for customs around the rest of the world, and indeed we are looking at those, including for example the border between the United States and Canada.”

It was put to May that there are “guns and armed customs guards on that border – surely that is not what she has in mind? Can she perhaps find another example?”

She replied: “What I said is that we are looking at the border arrangements in a number of countries around the world.

We are looking not just at the border arrangements that the European Union has with a number of countries – and it has a variety of customs arrangements with various countries – we’re also looking more widely around the world.

Last Wednesday, the European Commission published draft text of what it is calling a Withdrawal Agreement. It is 118 pages long and includes a controversial protocol on Northern Ireland which is already a huge sticking point for the UK.

In the absence of a deal, it outlines how Northern Ireland would become part of the EU customs union to ensure no hard border will be established on the island.

British Prime Minister rejected that out of hand and said there would be no breaking up of the UK’s common market or a border running down the Irish Sea.

Last Friday, then, she reiterated her support for the Good Friday Agreement and the peace process, ensuring that there would be no hard border on the island of Ireland.

Her proposals for how to do that – by way of either a customs partnership or special customs arrangement with specific exemptions for Northern Ireland – were the same as those dismissed by the EU last August.

With reporting from Sinead O’Carroll

Explainer: The EU is trying to force the UK to get real, here’s how

Read: May moots ‘associate membership’ of EU agencies, concedes neither side can have ‘exactly what we want’

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