Belfast Telegraph

Boris Johnson says UK government will have to accept 'reality' of customs checks in Ireland

The Irish border remains the key sticking point in the negotiations (Brian Lawless/PA)
The Irish border remains the key sticking point in the negotiations (Brian Lawless/PA)

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said the British government will have to accept the "reality" of customs checks in Ireland following Brexit.

Speaking to the BBC at the Tory party conference, the Prime Minister said: "If the EU is going to insist on customs checks as we come out, as it is, then we will have to accept that reality. And there will have to be a system for customs checks away from the border.

"Now, we think those checks can be absolutely minimal and non-intrusive and won't involve new infrastructure. But that is where the argument is going to be. And that's where the negotiation will be, [it] will be tough."

Mr Johnson added the British government has made "some very constructive and far-reaching proposals" on the border.

It has been reported that European Union governments have discussed the possibility of time-limiting the contentious Irish backstop, in what would be a major concession to the UK.

A time limit- something the EU has previously ruled out- would only be on offer if the UK accepted the backstop, Bloomberg reports.

The backstop would keep Northern Ireland in a customs union with the EU after Brexit.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is due to reveal his own proposals this week, has previously said he will not accept the backstop, which was agreed to by his predecessor Theresa May but voted down by Parliament.

Unionists have strongly objected to the backstop, saying this would create an economic barrier between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

It is understood the EU could give the Northern Ireland Assembly a say in whether the province remains in the backstop- which is designed to prevent a hard border in Ireland.

However, any concession to the UK on a time limit would have to be accepted by the Irish government, which has consistently reject a time-limited backstop.

However, an EU spokeswoman strongly denied that EU member states are considering a time-limited backstop.

A spokesperson for the European Commission Mina Andreeva said: "We have not received any proposals from the United Kingdom that meet all the objectives of the backstop, as we have been reiterating and demanding.

"It is the UK's responsibility to come forward with workable and legally operational solutions that meet all the objectives of the backstop, preventing a hard border, preserving the north-south co-operation and the whole Ireland economy and protecting the EU single market and Ireland's place in it."

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