Photo via New Statesman
An official from the British government said that Northern Ireland would not stay in the single market of the European Union or the customs union after Brexit, continuing that arrangements regarding the Irish border must not eat into the integrity of the United Kingdom.
Letting Northern Ireland retain some access has been floated by Guy Verhofstadt, the Brexit point man of the European Parliament.
On Monday, James Brokenshire, the British minister for Northern Ireland said: “We will leave the European Union in 2019 as one United Kingdom. We need to ensure that nothing is done that undermines the integrity of the UK single market.”
“I find it difficult to image how Northern Ireland could somehow remain in while the rest of the country leaves. I find it impossible,” Brokenshire informed a seminar in Brussels.
Brokenshire reiterated that the insistence of Prime Minister Theresa May that the United Kingdom would be exiting both as a result of the referendum in 2016.
London has suggested an “invisible border” without immigration checks or border posts between EU member Ireland and Northern Ireland after Brexit. However, it has provided no firm ideas regarding customs arrangements, and the side of the European Union has been mostly critical, stating that these plans are unrealistic.
Dublin has announced that it will not let Brexit negotiations move from the divorce discussion to talks regarding future trade relations between the European Union and Britain – as London is aiming for – in the absence of more guarantees on the border.
Simon Coveney, the Irish Foreign Minister, has asked for more guarantees that the Irish issue would be resolved even if the future trade discussions between the remaining 27 EU states and Britain collapse.
Brokenshire said that some agricultural laws in Northern Ireland — which is attempting to reach an agreement regarding how to relaunch its regional executive that is ruled at arm’s length from London — were already different than anywhere in the United Kingdom.
He signaled that Belfast could maintain some of its laws closer to those of the European Union after Brexit in order to minimize trade interruptions across the future border.
He also said that London was eager to preserve the single electricity market on the island of Ireland and is hoping for close cooperation with Dublin, including security matters, after Britain withdraws, as is now set to occur in March 2019.
This Thursday and Friday, EU and British negotiators will meet in Brussels again for more Brexit discussions that have been developing slowly, unnerving businesses and investors who ask for clarity in order to plan their future operations.