Taoiseach Leo Varadkar rules out Irish Sea as new border after Brexit

The Irish Prime Minister, Leo Varadkar said his government did not want to see any kind of economic border on the island of Ireland when the United Kingdom leaves the European Union.

Northern Irish protestant politicians who are propping up British Prime Minister Theresa May's minority government reacted with fury on Friday to a report that Ireland wants the Irish Sea to be its effective border with Britain after Brexit.

"They are the ones who want a border, it is up to them to say what it is, to say how it would work and to convince their own people, their own voters, that this is a good idea".

The Republic of Ireland's plan to draw the post-Brexit border with the United Kingdom in the Irish Sea will put the peace process at risk, the Democratic Unionist Party has warned.

The demands of the Irish government to introduce a border with the United Kingdom at the Irish Sea is unacceptable because it will make it more hard for people from Northern Ireland to travel to other parts of the United Kingdom and cause losses to local businesses, Nigel Dodds, the Leader of Northern Ireland's DUP Parliamentary Party, said Friday. Ireland's foreign minister similarly dug in: "What we do not want to pretend is that we can solve the problems of the border. through technical solutions like cameras and pre-registration and so on", says Simon Coveney.

In a statement this morning, it said avoiding a hard border after Brexit will require "flexible and imaginative solutions".

In a surprising shift in tone, new taoiseach Leo Varadkar insisted the UK's current border proposals are a shambles and threaten the Northern Ireland peace process.

Meanwhile the British government have dismissed the Irish government's proposal of sea border saying it is not feasible given the stretch of water that would have to be monitored.

The Times newspaper suggested the Republic's preferred option was for customs and immigration checks to be located at ports and airports instead.

He said: "This apparent hardening of attitudes within the Irish Government is untimely and unhelpful".

He said the border had been political and not economic since the creation of the European single market at the end of 1992. The Prime Minister has already reiterated this.

The issue is further complicated because of the "confidence and supply" agreement between Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and the Conservatives.

The British government had proposed using technology such as surveillance cameras to allow continued free trade between the north and south of the island.

The issue of the 310-mile Irish border has been thrown into sharp relief by Mrs May's commitment to leave the customs union after Brexit, as it would become a potential smuggling route.

Vanessa Coleman

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