The Government is set to outline how it hopes to maintain a “frictionless and seamless” border between Northern Ireland and the Republic when the UK leaves the customs union.
A position paper will recommend spot vehicle checks and the use of number plate recognition technology instead of physical infrastructure like customs posts.
Ireland’s Prime Minister Leo Varadkar had urged Theresa May to remain in the customs union to prevent the need for excise and duty checks at the land boundary.
Image: The border was once one of the most heavily fortified in western Europe
But London will suggest that under a new customs partnership it has already proposed there would be no customs border at all between the UK and Ireland.
Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire said the UK Government wants to uphold the Common Travel Area, which allows free movement between the United Kingdom and Ireland for British and Irish citizens.
“We wants to see that maintained, so that for UK and Irish citizens there is no change to the existing arrangement in terms of the movement of people,” he told Sky News.
:: Ireland will not ‘design border for Brexiteers’
Image: There are bullet holes in the few ‘Welcome to Northern Ireland’ signs designating the land boundary
Sinn Fein’s Brexit spokesman, David Cullinane TD, branded the latest proposals “unworkable”.
He said: “What is clear is that the Tories are prepared to use Ireland as collateral damage in the negotiations with the EU.”
But DUP leader Arlene Foster, who supports Brexit, stressed it would be a customs border, not a return to the heavily fortified security border of the past.
She said: “Technology really is the answer and that doesn’t necessarily mean that you have points along the border either. You can deal with them in a clearing way before you even get to the border.
Video: The post-Brexit Irish border issue
“What people forget was that the infrastructure that was put in place wasn’t there to deal with customs. It was there to deal with a real threat from terrorism.”
The land boundary is 310 miles long with up to 200 crossing points. The paper rejects Dublin’s proposal that it be moved into the Irish Sea between Great Britain and Ireland.
A Government spokesman said: “Both sides need to show flexibility and imagination when it comes to the border issue in Northern Ireland and that’s exactly what our latest position paper will do.
“The UK has the flexibility to design its own arrangements once it leaves the frameworks set in EU law and would always prioritise the cross-community support in Northern Ireland for a seamless border.”
Image: Mark McKenna runs a cross-border haulage company
Mark McKenna, who runs a cross-border haulage company in Clones, County Monaghan, is disappointed Theresa May has ignored her Irish counterpart’s plea.
“She is trying to implement a hard border but there’s no physical way she can implement a hard border without putting livelihoods at risk.
“If I’ve two or three borders to cross just to go to work, how am I supposed to make a living spending all day in border checkpoints?”
Source: SKY News Feed