Hard border between Northern Ireland and Republic ruled out

The British Government has ruled out introducing Irish border posts after leaving the EU.

The Irish Army and the Garda (Irish Police) stand near checkpoints on the border with Northern Ireland in 2001 (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)

Brexit Secretary David Davis said the UK would adopt technology to cover the movement of goods between Northern Ireland and the Republic.

He gave evidence to his Westminster scrutiny committee about the future of the UK’s only land frontier with an EU state.

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He said: “It is not going to be easy, it is going to cost us money, a lot of work on technology, to put border controls in but without having border posts - but that is what we intend to do.”

Businesses north and south are unanimously opposed to a hard border following Brexit, with long queues for paperwork checks envisaged akin to the 1980s when the Northern Ireland conflict still simmered.

Tour operators, hoteliers, business leaders and members of the agriculture industry are among those concerned about the implications if no special deal is struck between the UK and Ireland.

Mr Davis said: “I am confident that actually the two nations and the (European) Commission between them will be able to solve this because we really want to, because the technology is better than it was 20 years ago and because we all understand the value of it.”

He added: “We are not going to do anything which jeopardises the peace process.”

The Brexit Secretary noted excise duty differences on goods moving between north and south were already dealt with in a subtle fashion.

He said the same system for sending goods between Belfast and Dublin could also control trade between the UK and a city like Rotterdam in Holland.

Freedom of movement between the UK and Ireland is covered by separate arrangements.

Under the UK’s 1949 Ireland Act Irish citizens living in the UK are treated as “non-foreign”.

That may have to be reviewed post-Brexit, given that the Republic would still be in the EU.

Mr Davis added: “What we will aim to do is pretty much identical to the 1949 Act, which gives effectively citizenship rights to the citizens of each country.”