Brexit: No 10 still 'confident' of Irish border solution

Theresa May has claimed that she is in favour of a frictionless border. Pic AP

The Prime Minister was clear in her speech at Mansion House that the European Union and United Kingdom need to work together to agree a solution.

Chief negotiator Michel Barnier told French TV on Friday that 25% of the final withdrawal deal had still to be settled and it could still be derailed by disagreements over the border and other issues. She proposed two options for avoiding a hard border in Northern Ireland.

Theresa May's proposals for the Irish border after Brexit were reportedly "annihilated" by European negotiators this week.

December's first-phase agreement - officially known as the Joint Report - contains the "backstop" option of continued regulatory alignment between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland in many areas.

The European Union's chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, attends an EU meeting in Brussels, Belgium Thomson Reuters PARIS (Reuters) - The European Union's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said on Friday some 25 percent of work remained to be done on a pact covering United Kingdom withdrawal from the EU, including crucial issues such as management of the Ireland/Northern Ireland border.

"It was a detailed and forensic rebuttal", the source told the paper.

According to the Daily Telegraph, senior European Union diplomatic sources provided a "systematic and forensic annihilation" of the UK's ideas in talks with Olly Robbins, the UK's lead Brexit negotiator.

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An EU source said there would be more talks in the coming weeks and opportunities for the United Kingdom to come back with fresh proposals ahead of June's summit.

He added: "We're confident that in the coming months, if all sides work together productively we can achieve a solution to the Ireland/Northern Ireland border that works for everyone involved".

The Brexit riddle of how to keep the Irish border free of customs checks - and even CCTV cameras and "smart technology" - when the invisible line becomes the only land border between the EU and UK remains unsolved and potentially catastrophic for the success EU-UK talks.

Mrs May's suggestion of a "customs partnership", which would see the United Kingdom collect duties for goods bound for Europe on behalf of the European Union, was ruled out by Brussels on three grounds, the Telegraph reported.

"The Irish and Brussels in particular - but I think backed, as far as I can see, by Berlin and Paris - have said the only solution to this is the so-called backstop Option C, which is what the Commission put in print and got the toxic reaction both from the DUP and the Prime Minister".

The blow followed a government defeat in the House of Lords earlier this week, which will force a vote in the House of Commons on whether May should negotiate for customs union membership.

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