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Sajid Javid would make 'grand gesture' to Irish government by covering costs of new 'digitised border' in Ireland

Home Secretary said Ireland is the "tail that wags the dog" on Brexit.

Sajid Javid says he has the broadest appeal of any of the Tory leadership candidates (Jane Barlow/PA)
Sajid Javid says he has the broadest appeal of any of the Tory leadership candidates (Jane Barlow/PA)

Tory leadership hopeful Sajid Javid has said he would make a "grand gesture" to the Irish government by offering to cover the costs of a new "digitised" Irish border in order to secure a Brexit deal.

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The Home Secretary, who is bidding to become the next prime minister, told The Andrew Marr Show on Sunday morning that he would make the offer to the Irish government in order to gain "good will".

He said his Brexit plan hinges on coming up with an alternative to the Irish backstop.

"I will focus on the one Brexit deal that has already got through Parliament - that was the withdrawal agreement with a change to the backstop," he said.

"[Ireland] is the tail that wags the dog on this and we need to make sure we can do more to build that good will in Ireland and build their confidence."

The so-called Irish backstop, which would see Northern Ireland remain in some form of customs union with the EU after Brexit in order to prevent a hard border, has been the major sticking point in agreeing a withdrawal agreement between the UK government and the EU.

Mr Javid continued: "In my department (Home Office) at the moment I've got border force and we've done work for months on what an alternative to that arrangement could look like and what's missing is that good will.

"What I would do is make a grand gesture to Ireland that we would cover all their costs - the upfront costs, the running costs - of a new digitised border.

"I think it could be done in a couple of years but I think we could cover their costs."

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