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Brexit: No 10 rubbishes 'flying squad of border inspectors' plan for Northern Ireland

Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg chairs the ERG.
Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg chairs the ERG.
Jonathan Bell

By Jonathan Bell

Number 10 has rubbished a potential alternative Brexit plan which could see "flying squads" of tax inspectors roam the Northern Ireland countryside to carry out spot checks on goods crossing the border.

A spokesman for the Prime Minister said there was yet to be a "suitable alternative" to Theresa May's Chequers plan to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic.

The Sun revealed the plan is being considered by the European Research Group - a powerful group of Tories advocating for a hard Brexit.

The proposal drawn up by Hans Maessen - described as a Dutch Customs Expert - says customs officials would be able to check goods while they are still “on the premises of the “importer/forwarder” rather than at the border.

Cross-border trading companies, under the plan, could self-declare the tax they owe on goods, as well as certify the standards and quality.

The Sun reports “mobile inspections teams” alongside “incidental inspections at the border” would make sure rules were being followed.

The border between Northern Ireland and the Republic has become one of the major sticking points in the EU exit talks with both sides in disagreement on how best to ensure a frictionless crossing in the future between the UK and its only land border with the EU on the island of Ireland.

It's thought the ERG is to publish its plan - dubbed an alternative to the Chequers plan which the Prime Minister proposed and saw the resignations of David Davis and Boris Johnson from the Cabinet - in the coming weeks.

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