Belfast Telegraph

Only solution for Irish border will be UK remaining in EU single market: Jonathan Powell

The issue of the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic will ultimately mean the UK stays within the single market, a former senior aide to Tony Blair during the peace process has said.

The Times of London has reported that the Irish Government is hardening its stance over the issues with a preference for the Irish Sea to act as a border between it and the UK after Brexit.

Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney, however, has said there has been no such proposal.

Speaking to Sky News, Jonathan Powell who played an influential role in the talks preceding the Good Friday Agreement, said that the issue would lead to the UK remaining in the single market.

He described the British efforts so far in the Brexit negotiations as "shambolic" and that given the issue of the border was not a new one, there should have been answers to it already.

"The Good Friday Agreement took the issue of identity out of Irish politics, a hard border puts it right back in," he said.

"There is already a political crisis in Northern Ireland because the two sides can not agree and this will only make things worse."

Mr Powell said there were no "simple answers" in resolving the question of the border in a post-Brexit Europe, adding: "Putting the border in the sea may be a fine theory, but obviously it will never be acceptable to the DUP.

"There are no technological solutions, the only way to deal with this is a hard border or the UK remaining in the single market.

"The only way I can see this being resolved is by the UK staying in the single market."

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