Northern Ireland could stay in the EU single market and customs union post Brexit, says Guy Verhofstadt

Guy Verhofstadt told the Irish Parliament that Northern Ireland could stay in the customs union after Brexit

Tom Peck
Thursday 21 September 2017 13:17
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Mr Verhofstadt also said the Brexit talks had left him with "nothing to veto"
Mr Verhofstadt also said the Brexit talks had left him with "nothing to veto"

The European Parliament’s Brexit negotiator Guy Verhofstadt has told an Irish parliamentary committee that Ireland will “never be allowed” to suffer as a consequence of the UK’s decision to leave the EU.

He also said that British proposals for a “technological” border on the Irish mainland was unworkable, and instead suggesting Northern Ireland could remain in the single market and the customs union after Brexit.

Mr Verhofstadt told a committee of Irish MPs: “What we will never allow is that Ireland will suffer from the British decision to leave the EU.

Boris Johnson 'old fashioned and talking nonsense' - Guy Verhofstadt

“That is a commitment that has been made by the European parliament and by the EU as a whole.”

Mr Verhofstadt said both the EU and the UK would have to ensure there was “no return to a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic” but said the solution would have to come from the UK and its current proposals for a “technological” solution was not a solution.

Asked about suggestions Northern Ireland could remain within the single market and the customs union after the rest of the United Kingdom leaves, Mr Verhofsadt said:

“They are all solutions that are possible. What is not possible is the solution put on the table by the British Government, which is a return to a border, but it is not visible.

“So we are very in favour of any solution, that avoids in any way a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Irish republic.

“The main proposal I have heard to avoid this, is that Northern Ireland could continue to participate in the single market and the customs union”.

Mr Verhofstadt, said he had spent Wednesday afternoon visiting the border area and said it was impossible to detect where the UK ends and the Irish Republic began.

“Certainly the cows especially couldn’t see it”, he said.

Asked if the European Parliament would veto any deal which is not acceptable, Mr Verhofstadt said for the moment there is nothing to veto.

“There is no real progress in the negotiations,” he said.

“Maybe the intervention of the British Prime Minister can be a breakthrough in the coming days”.

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