No Irish border posts and free movement principles agreed in Brexit talks, Theresa May tells MPs
Prime Minister Theresa May has given assurances there will be no infrastructure along the Northern Ireland border with the Republic and principles have been agreed with the other 27 EU member states which will allow people to work and move freely right across the island of Ireland after Brexit.
Mrs May was updating MPs on the latest stages of the exit talks. She said it is her "mission" to negotiate a new post-Brexit partnership with the EU and gave an upbeat assessment of withdrawal divorce talks saying a deal was within "touching distance".
"We have also made significant progress on Northern Ireland where it is absolutely imperative that joint work on the peace process is not affected in anyway," she said.
"The Belfast Agreement must be at the heart of our approach and we have clearly agreed that the unique circumstances across the whole of the island or Ireland will require specific solutions.
"There will not be any physical infrastructure along the border and we have also developed joint principles to ensure the continuation of the common travel area.
"These principle will fully preserve the rights of the UK and Irish nationals to live, work and study across these islands and protect the associated rights to public services and social security."
Mrs May said the UK will leave the EU in March 2019. In her address in the Commons she said she was "determined to put people first" in any deal with the EU. She said EU nationals would continue to benefit from life in the UK and families would not be torn apart.
It would be no more difficult or expensive than applying for a passport, for an EU national to apply for settlement in the UK after Brexit, Mrs May said.
"EU citizens make an extraordinary contribution to UK life and we want them to stay," she said.
Despite the positive update the Prime Minister made it clear a no deal scenario was still an option as she insisted the government was preparing for every eventuality. Mrs May said the government was going through its financial commitments to the EU "line by line".
"I am ambitious and positive about Britain's future and these negotiations," she told MPs.
"If we are going to take a step forward together it must be on the basis of joint effort and endeavour between the UK and the EU. But, I believe that by approaching these negotiations in a constructive way in a spirit of friendship and cooperation, we can and will deliver the best possible outcome that works for all our people.
"Of course, we are preparing for every eventuality to ensure we leave in a smooth and orderly way.
"But I am confident that we will be able to negotiate a new, deep and special partnership between a sovereign United Kingdom and our friends in the European Union.
"That is my mission.
"That is this Government's mission."
Belfast Telegraph Digital