The Brexit secretary, David Davis, has promised there will be no return to a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic when the UK leaves the European Union.
Before a visit to Belfast on Thursday, Davis vowed there would be no return to the past in terms of armed checkpoints and border checks along the UK’s only land frontier with an EU state.
The secretary of state for exiting the European Union will meet the first minister, Arlene Foster, at Stormont at about lunchtime alongside the Sinn Féin finance minister, Máirtín Ó’Muilleoir.
Writing in the Belfast Telegraph on Thursday, Davis said: We had a common travel area between the UK and the Republic of Ireland many years before either country was a member of the European Union.
We are clear we do not want a hard border – no return to the past – and no unnecessary barriers to trade. What we will do is deliver a practical solution that will work in everyone’s interests, and I look forward to opening the conversation about how that should operate with my colleagues today.
The minister also tried to address fears in Northern Ireland about the economic impact of losing EU subsidies once the UK triggers article 50 and leaves Europe.
There is particular concern in the region’s agricultural community about Brexit given that £8.50 of every £10 of Ulster farming income comes from the EU single farm payment.
Agriculture is a vital part of the Northern Ireland economy, and the government will match the current level of annual payments that the sector receives through the direct payment scheme until 2020, providing certainty, Davis said.
Denying Brexit would damage UK-Irish relations, Davis said: We are already working with the Irish government and I firmly believe this process will take our relationship forwards not backwards.
Brexit would also not change the government’s policies on Northern Ireland and its continued support for the power-sharing settlement in the region, Davis said.
The result of the referendum does not change the government’s priorities. Along with all political parties in Northern Ireland and the Irish government, we will continue to work for peace, stability and prosperity for Northern Ireland. As the government’s manifesto set out last year, we are committed to a brighter, more secure future for the people who live here.
News Source TheGuardianNews