Belfast Telegraph

Sammy Wilson says report EU's planning Irish border technology 'no surprise to DUP'

The border between Londonderry and Donegal at Bridgend. (PA Archive)
The border between Londonderry and Donegal at Bridgend. (PA Archive)
Gareth Cross

By Gareth Cross

Sammy Wilson said reports the EU is making plans for technology to facilitate trade at the Irish border in the event of a no-deal Brexit "come as no surprise" to the DUP.

The party's Brexit spokesperson was speaking after the Sun reported the EU will use "IT systems" to keep trade moving between Republic of Ireland and the rest of the EU.

According to reports, a dossier is to be presented next week saying a fix "can be implemented swiftly" in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

EU officials are said to be in "regular contact" with authorities in Ireland, France and the Netherlands over contingency plans.

The dossier advises EU countries to use the Brexit extension until October 31 to review progress on new border inspection posts "and ensure that they are fully functional from the outset" in the event of a no-deal.

“Furthermore, the commission maintains regular contacts with the most concerned member states so that a land-bridge route between Ireland and the rest of the EU via the UK can be implemented swiftly in the event of No Deal, including support from the necessary IT systems," it reportedly reads.

Mr Wilson said that he was not surprised by news of the plans despite EU "intransigence over the Irish backstop".

The backstop aims to prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland after Brexit, but the DUP claim it will keep Northern Ireland closely aligned with the EU and create a trade border in the Irish Sea.

The backstop issue effectively ended Theresa May's hopes of getting her Brexit deal through Parliament and its failure hastened her departure as Prime Minister.

The DUP Brexit spokesperson said that a no-deal Brexit looks "increasingly likely" as it is backed by the majority of Tory leadership contenders vying to replace Mrs May.

"We have always insisted that the technology exists and disruption across the border was simply a scare tactic by the Irish government, the EU and those who wished to overturn the referendum result," Mr Wilson said.

"Now more than ever whoever takes over negotiations with the EU must insist that this backstop nonsense will not be tolerated and as a number of candidates have suggested, Britain will refuse to pay one penny to the European Union until the kind of deal which avoids the backstop has been agreed."

The East Antrim MP said he still believed a deal could be agreed that worked for everyone.

"There is room to achieve a sensible deal which respects the constitutional and economic integrity of the United Kingdom," Mr Wilson said.

"We want to see a sensible deal but EU intransigence has been the barrier to such a deal being secured.”

PM hopeful Sajid Javid said the UK had a "moral duty" to pay for border arrangements pledging to offer £500million for technological solutions.

Sammy Wilson
Sammy Wilson

Last month the EU's Chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said the EU would be willing to consider backstop alternatives including "technology, drones and invisible borders", but that such measures did not currently exist.

Mr Barnier said that Mrs May's successor in Number 10 will have to sign up to the current withdrawal deal if they wish to progress negotiations.

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