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Dublin pushes for post-Brexit Irish Sea border between Ireland and GB

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is said to be unconvinced by the UK’s plans to introduce a high-tech land border.

Theresa May is facing a fresh Brexit challenge amid reports that Dublin wants the Irish Sea to be the country’s border with the UK.

Ireland’s new Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is unconvinced by the UK’s plans to introduce a high-tech land border between Northern Ireland and the Republic after Brexit, according to The Times.

It comes after Home Secretary Amber Rudd pledged there would be “no cliff-edge” on freedom of movement after Brexit, as she outlined an “implementation” period where EU nationals could register to come and work in the UK.

The border between Northern Ireland and the Republic is one of the key issues that needs to be resolved by the UK and the EU before talks begin on a new trade deal.

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New Taoiseach Leo Varadkar met Theresa May in June (Philip Toscano/PA)

British ministers had proposed using measures like surveillance cameras to allow free movement between the north and south of the island.

However, sources have told The Times that Mr Varadkar thinks these plans could jeopardise the peace process in Ireland and restrict movement between the two countries.

He is said to want customs and immigration checks moved away from the land border to ports and airports – effectively drawing a new border in the Irish Sea.

Irish foreign minister Simon Coveney, speaking at a meeting of EU foreign affairs ministers last week, said: “What we do not want to pretend is that we can solve the problems of the border on the island of Ireland through technical solutions like cameras and pre-registration and so on. That is not going to work.”

He added: “Any barrier or border on the island of Ireland in my view risks undermining a very hard-won peace process and all of the parties in Northern Ireland, whether they are unionist or nationalist, recognise we want to keep the free movement of people and goods and services and livelihoods.”

Such a suggestion is likely to anger the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), which supports the Tories at Westminster through a confidence and supply arrangement.

The DUP has previously rejected calls for a “special status” for Northern Ireland after Brexit, while it is also at loggerheads with Sinn Fein after the collapse of the Northern Ireland executive.

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The border between Northern Ireland and the Republic is one of the key issues that needs to be resolved (PA)

DUP MP Ian Paisley tweeted: “1 of 2 things will now happen 1. A very hard border 2. Ireland will wise up and leave the EU.”

DUP MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson ruled out the idea of a border running along the Irish Sea.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “There is no way that the DUP would go for an option that creates a border between one part of the United Kingdom and the other. Dublin really needs to understand that that proposition is absurd and unconstitutional.”

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