Borders: Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland

Department for Exiting the European Union written question – answered on 8th January 2018.

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Photo of Stephen Timms Stephen Timms Labour, East Ham

To ask the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, whether he has identified any factors which could give rise to a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland and which could be resolved though (i) general EU-UK negotiations or (ii) specific solutions to address the unique circumstances of the island of Ireland; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Steven Baker Steven Baker The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union

The Government is committed to avoiding a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland.

The UK:EU Joint Report sets out our plan to address Northern Ireland’s unique circumstances and the border in the context of the wider UK-EU deep and special partnership. That is the right approach - we want a deal that works for all parts of the UK, whilst recognising Northern Ireland’s unique circumstances.

These principles also address the question of a fall-back option to avoid a hard border and disruption to businesses and supply chains both sides of the border in the unlikely event that we do not reach the agreement we want.

In that scenario, the Government will ensure regulatory continuity in those sectors that are crucial to cross-border cooperation, businesses and the farming community. These are sectors where cross-border policies and approaches have already received cross-community support.

The Government also recalls its commitment to preserving the integrity of the UK internal market and Northern Ireland's place within it. In all circumstances, the United Kingdom will continue to ensure the same unfettered access for Northern Ireland's businesses to the whole of the United Kingdom internal market.

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