Britain’s opposition Labour Party demanded on Sunday (March 25) that the government makes a legally binding promise to avoid a hard border in Northern Ireland once Britain leaves the European Union, saying ministers’ pledges could not be trusted.
Northern Ireland, which will become Britain’s only land frontier with the European Union after Brexit in March 2019, remains the most difficult issue in talks between Brussels and London, and a threat to peace in the British province.
Both Britain and the EU are committed to keeping a free flow of people and goods over the Irish border without returning to checkpoints — symbols of the three decades of violence in the region largely ended by the Good Friday Agreement of 1998.
However, finding a practical solution for any customs checks needed after Brexit has proved elusive. The government’s preferred solution for Northern Ireland is for a customs agreement that allows for as much frictionless trade with the EU as possible, mitigating the need for border checks. Labour wants a formal customs union with the EU.
On Sunday, Brexit minister David Davis repeated the government’s vow to find a way to avoid a hard border in the British province after leaving the EU, saying there would be no checkpoints and no cameras.