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Theresa May: I don't want to see return of manned border

By Rebecca Black

Published 01/10/2016

Commitment: Theresa May
Commitment: Theresa May

Prime Minister Theresa May says she wants to see free movement across the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic preserved following the UK's departure from Europe.

She has said she agrees with the Irish government and Northern Ireland Executive about not wanting to see a return to the hard militarised Irish border of the past.

Mrs May has also committed to work "closely" with them to ensure free movement between the north and south.

She told BBC Northern Ireland she is in discussions with the Irish government at the moment over "how we can develop these ideas in ways that are going to ensure that we deliver on the intention of all parties".

The UK voted in June by a tight margin to leave the EU.

Some 52% voted to leave against 48% who voted to remain. However, in Northern Ireland, a majority (56%) voted to stay in the EU.

Speaking during a visit to Northern Ireland in June, before the referendum, Mrs May warned a Leave vote would end an open north-south border.

She said then that it was "inconceivable to suggest a Leave vote would not have a negative impact on the border".

"If we are out of the European Union with tariffs on exporting goods into the EU, there would have to be something to recognise that between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland," she said at the time.

"And if you pulled out of the EU and came out of free movement, then how could you have a situation where there was an open border with a country that was in the EU and had access to free movement?"

However, the Prime Minister has denied making a u-turn in her views.

"What I said was that, of course if we leave and there is a land border with a country within the European Union, that does bring a change to that relationship across the border," she said.

"All parties are clear about the intent and will to ensure we have an arrangement that isn't a return to the borders of the past."

To leave the EU, the UK Parliament must vote to trigger Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon on European Union.

No date has yet been given for when this will happen, with some speculation that it may happen in 2017.

Belfast Telegraph

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