THE UK’S BREXIT negotiator David Davis has said that the Irish border problem could be solved by technology.
On the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, it was put to Davis that it’s impossible to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland if there isn’t an amicable deal struck between the UK and the European Union.
His reply was: ”There is a risk in trying to focus just on the downsides.
The likely outcome is we get a free trade agreement, we get a customs agreement, all of those make the Northern Ireland issue much much easier to solve. Not easy, but easier.
He was told that there’s no border solution in history that would work, and replied:
That’s because we’ve got a whole load of new technology now, we’ve also had one European Parliament report, we don’t agree with it entirely… saying technology can help here.
You can’t just say we haven’t done it anywhere else: we haven’t attempted to do it anywhere else.
His comments come after a UK-EU agreement on guidelines that will govern negotiations on future relations and trade links with Britain after Brexit, which has been described as a “decisive step” in negotiations.
In the aftermath of that deal being struck, Davis stated that the UK government “remains steadfast” in its commitment to avoiding a hard Irish border after Brexit.
On the Andrew Marr Show, Davis said that the UK and EU have agreed “to find an Option C – that is the backstop”.
In December last year, a “regulatory alignment” deal was struck that said in the event of no deal aimed to ensure there would be no return of an Irish border on the island of Ireland.
Speaking on The Week In Politics, Minister of State for European Affairs Helen McEntee said that since the backstop provision, “there had been no engagement between the UK and the EU” on the agreement.
What we’ve now gotten since last week is a letter from Theresa May to the head of the council saying that all of the issues that includes the Section 49 which deals directly with the border that all of those issues must be included in the withdrawal agreement.
She added that the aim was to completely legally translate the document by June.
McEntee said that work was being done to look at the future relationship with the UK post-Brexit, including industries such as the environment, agriculture and fisheries.
“[We're looking at the] key issues that might arise with the UK, that work is continuing, we’re now talking about what that relationship will look like.”
Sinn Fein spokesperson for Brexit David Cullinane welcomed Davis’ remarks that a border solution will be found, but questioned the legitimacy of the Brexit deals that have been made thus far.
It is clear that the protocol itself is nothing more than a diplomatic sleight of hand to park the Irish issue until the wider trade talks are concluded.
“By the time October comes around the Irish government will be under enormous pressure to accept whatever agreement is put on the table.
The hope is that it will be enough to avoid a hard border – but that itself is not guaranteed.