Theresa May on NI: ‘We will ensure there is no hard border’

The British prime minister says ‘very good’ progress has been made in Brexit talks

Britain’s prime minister Theresa May as she spoke during the weekly Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) session in the House of Commons in London on Wednesday. Photograph: AFP/Getty

Britain’s prime minister Theresa May as she spoke during the weekly Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) session in the House of Commons in London on Wednesday. Photograph: AFP/Getty

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Britain’s prime minister Theresa May has said the British government will ensure the Brexit deal will not involve a hard border in Ireland.

She said on Wednesday the government would give more details about how to preserve and protect the United Kingdom’s internal market in the second phase of Brexit talks.

“Negotiations are in progress and very good progress has been made,” she told parliament.

On a deal to prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland, Ms May said: “We will ensure there is no hard border.”

“We will do that while we respect the constitutional integrity of the United Kingdom and while we respect the internal market and protect the internal market of the United Kingdom,” Ms May said.

“Those Labour members who shout ‘how?’ - that’s the whole point of the second phase of the negotiations. Because we will deliver this, we aim to deliver as part of our overall trade deal between the United Kingdom and the European Union and we can only talk about that when we get into phase two.”

A spokesman for Ms May warned on Wednesday against the idea that discussions with Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party to resolving a Brexit row could involve the Northern Irish budget.

“I’d warn you against speculating in that direction,” the spokesman told reporters when asked if talks involved financial issues and Northern Ireland’s budget. He said the government would not be providing further details of a telephone call between Ms May and DUP leader Arlene Foster earlier in the day.

The SNP claimed during the questions that Ms May must recognise that remaining in the single market and customs union would “resolve” the Irish border question and protect jobs.

The party’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford said leaving the blocs would “devastate our economy and cost jobs” as he urged the prime minister to secure a deal.

But Ms May said Mr Blackford “continues to bark up the wrong tree”.

During PMQs, Mr Blackford said: “The clock is ticking and we need a deal that keeps us in the single market and the customs union — to do otherwise will devastate our economy and cost jobs.

“Will the prime minister recognise that such a deal will resolve the Irish border question and protect jobs throughout the UK — anything less will be a failure of leadership.

Ms May replied: “We are leaving the European Union, that means we will be leaving the single market and leaving the customs union ... and we ensure that we can do trade deals around the rest of the world.” - Reuters and PA

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