British guarantee on Border critical to Brexit talks, Donohoe says

Minister for Finance meets UK counterpart and cabinet office minister in London

Minister for Finance  Paschal Donohoe: “It is critical that we have a strong backstop in place to manage many of the difficult developments that could take place during the Brexit process.” Photograph: Jason Alden/Bloomberg

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe: “It is critical that we have a strong backstop in place to manage many of the difficult developments that could take place during the Brexit process.” Photograph: Jason Alden/Bloomberg

 

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe has described as “critical” the guarantee that Northern Ireland would continue to adhere to European Union regulations if no other way is found to avoid a hard Border after Brexit. Speaking in London after meetings with chancellor of the exchequer Philip Hammond and cabinet office minister David Lidington, he acknowledged the British government’s concerns over the draft legal text published by the European Commission last week.

Theresa May said the text, which suggested that a customs Border could be imposed between Britain and both parts of the island of Ireland, would be unacceptable to any British government. This view was endorsed by Labour.

“We noted with care what prime minister May said on Friday in relation to the Good Friday agreement, in relation to Northern Ireland and in relation to her commitment to the implementation of frictionless borders. And the concerns of a number of politicians here in relation to the text that has been published were shared with me. But from the point of view of Ireland, it is critical that we have a strong backstop in place to manage many of the difficult developments that could take place during the Brexit process,” Mr Donohoe said.

The Minister said the dispute over the draft legal text highlighted how important it was that Britain and the EU reach a comprehensive agreement in relation to their future relationship.

“The backstop is just that, it is a planned backstop. It’s something that takes place if a number of other options do not happen. We want to do all that is possible through the EU27, through the task force that is led by Michel Barnier, to see a successful conclusion to the negotiations between the UK and the EU that respect the integrity of the single market but also recognise the challenges that we have on the island of Ireland. And of course if that takes place it will deal with many of the issues that exist economically on the island of Ireland,” he said.