Brexit chief David Davis’ 'no hard border with Ireland' claims branded ‘ridiculous’ by former EU commissioner

'I am absolutely mystified, not for the first time in this debate, about what is coming out of London' former EU commissioner says

Samuel Osborne
Friday 02 September 2016 11:56 BST
David Davis claims both the UK and Ireland want an 'open border'

Brexit Secretary David Davis’ claim the UK will not have a “hard border” with the Republic of Ireland after it leaves the EU are “ridiculous”, according to a former EU commissioner.

On his visit to Northern Ireland, Mr Davis promised there would be no return to the “hard border” between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic when the UK leaves the EU.

Writing in The Belfast Telegraph on Thursday, Mr Davis said: “We had a common travel area between the UK and the Republic of Ireland many years before either country was a member of the European Union.

“We are clear we do not want a hard border – no return to the past – and no unnecessary barriers to trade.

David Davis says UK wants free access to EU single market

“What we will do is deliver a practical solution that will work in everyone’s interests, and I look forward to opening the conversation about how that should operate with my colleagues today.”

However, former EU commissioner Peter Sutherland has described Mr Davis’ claim there will be no hard trade border as “ridiculous”.

“I am absolutely mystified, not for the first time in this debate, about what is coming out of London,” he said during his visit to Stormont House, The Irish Times reported.

“We have been told by a number of Conservative Party spokespeople that Britain will leave the common customs area of the EU.

"If this is true, the customs union, which relates to sharing a common external tariff of the EU, will have to be maintained by all other EU countries with the UK following its withdrawal. Goods will have to be checked at borders.

“I would be very fearful that they may be heading towards a negotiation that will require a hard border between north and south in Ireland. Dismissing this as a prospect at this stage is ridiculous.”

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