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Prime Minister Theresa May's Government 'to quash' Irish premier Leo Varadkar's plans for border rethink

By John Mulgrew

Irish premier Leo Varadkar's calls for a rethinking of a customs border between Northern Ireland and Republic look to have been quashed by Westminster, according to reports.

On the issue of what will happen to the regions post-Brexit, Mr Varadkar had said a "unique solution" was needed.

And during a visit here earlier this month, he moved to dispel the suggestion that the Irish government favoured making the Irish Sea the EU/UK border.

But according to The Times, UK Government ministers are preparing to rebuff the Irish Government, and instead insist on bringing in a customs border.

The paper says that a “formal position paper to be published next week by the government” which will state that ministers are sticking with plans for a “light touch” customs border.

That could involve spot checks, as well as technology, to control the flow of goods between Northern Ireland and the Republic.

Mr Varadkar recently angered unionists when he said the Republic would not help the UK design an economic border for Brexiteers.

The Fine Gael leader attempted to shift the onus for designing a solution to border movement firmly onto the UK, insisting he was not going to "design a border for the Brexiteers because they're the ones who want a border".

During his first visit to Northern Ireland as Taoiseach, he warned that future trade and customs restrictions would be detrimental to both the EU and the UK as he set out his vision for a "soft" Brexit.

Leo Varadkar proposed a bilateral EU/UK customs union and raised the possibility of the UK joining the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) after it exited the EU.

He said he would ideally like the UK to remain within the current customs union and single market structures but, if that did not happen, he suggested his alternative was "workable".

In response, the UK Government said it was committed to a "deep and special" future partnership with the EU that included "bold and ambitious" free trade and customs agreements.

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