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No hard border claim ridiculous: Ex-EU Commissioner

By Staff Reporter

Published 03/09/2016

Promise: David Davis
Promise: David Davis

Former EU Commissioner Peter Sutherland has described Brexit Secretary David Davis' claim there will be no hard trade border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland as "ridiculous".

Speaking during his visit to Northern Ireland earlier this week, Mr Davis promised there would be no return to the "hard border" between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic when the UK leaves the EU.

Writing in The Belfast Telegraph on Thursday, Mr Davis said: "We had a common travel area between the UK and the Republic of Ireland many years before either country was a member of the European Union.

"We are clear we do not want a hard border - no return to the past - and no unnecessary barriers to trade.

"What we will do is deliver a practical solution that will work in everyone's interests, and I look forward to opening the conversation about how that should operate with my colleagues today."

However, Mr Sutherland said the claim is "ridiculous".

"I am absolutely mystified, not for the first time in this debate, about what is coming out of London," he added during a visit to Stormont House.

"We have been told by a number of Conservative Party spokespeople that Britain will leave the common customs area of the EU.

"If this is true, the customs union, which relates to sharing a common external tariff of the EU, will have to be maintained by all other EU countries with the UK following its withdrawal. Goods will have to be checked at borders.

"I would be very fearful that they may be heading towards a negotiation that will require a hard border between north and south in Ireland. Dismissing this as a prospect at this stage is ridiculous."

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