The European Commission has confirmed that a no deal Brexit would result in a hard border between Ireland and the United Kingdom. The statement comes as a departure from previous the claims that the crossing would remain invisible.
During a press conference, a spokesperson for the Commission, Margaritis Schinas, issued the warning in which he also quoted the Spice Girls as he asked the United Kingdom to reveal “what they want, what they really, really want” from Brexit.
His remarks regarding the Irish border were dismissed by the DUP as “more belligerent bluffing from the EU,” while an Irish Taoiseach spokesperson stated: “We will not accept a hard border on this island and therefore we are not planning for one. This will be more difficult to achieve without the Withdrawal Agreement and would require very difficult discussions with our EU partners.”
British Prime Minister Theresa May has repeatedly spoken out against the return to either a hard border or the introduction of any kind of customs infrastructure on the divide. On Monday, she said to the MPs: “All of us agree that as we leave the European Union we must fully respect the Belfast agreement and not allow the creation of a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland, or indeed a border down the Irish sea.”
Schinas’ comments came after he said that the so-called Plan B for Brexit of PM May, which seeks more assurances over the temporary nature of the Irish backstop, had left him with “a terrible sense of deja vu.”
When asked by journalists regarding the border issue, he stated: “If you’d like to push me and speculate on what might happen in a no-deal scenario in Ireland, I think it’s pretty obvious: you will have a hard border.”
His comments came as MPs proposes a host of options for changing the Brexit strategy of the UK government.
The amendments to May’s motion of setting out her Plan B – which she announced in the Commons earlier this week – are scheduled to be voted on next Tuesday.
While the said amendments have no legal power, they may present an indication of what shape the Brexit deal requires to take to get through the Commons.
Among those which could be accepted by the Speaker, John Bercow, for a vote include calls to extend the negotiating timeframe of Article 50; request an expiry date to the backstop; entirely rule out a ‘no deal’; and allow the MPs to vote on whether there should be another Brexit referendum.
During a conference call with the British Prime Minister this afternoon, Business groups also asked May over the probability of a ‘no deal.’
Representatives from the IoD, CBI, FSB, and BCC were among those who received an update regarding her negotiating strategy.
A source disclosed: “There wasn’t anything that was said that was new.”
While those who are involved in the call raised their “concerns about no deal,” PM May reiterated the arguments from her statement to MPs last Monday that the only way to eliminate that likelihood of a no deal was to secure an agreement or stop Brexit – something that she would not do.