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Donald Tusk: Special place in hell for Brexiteers

07 February 2019

Prime Minister Theresa May has said her commitment to no hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland is "unshakeable" as she prepares for another visit to Brussels to meet European Union leaders.

Addressing business leaders in the Northern Ireland capital, May said that "both the United Kingdom and the Irish governments have already made clear that we would support the tantalising possibility of a joint United Kingdom and Ireland World Cup Bid for 2030, should our respective football associations choose to pursue this".

But it is about more than preventing infrastructure at the border: it is also about protecting the Good Friday Agreement in its broadest sense.

Selmayr, secretary-general of the Commission, denied reports that the bloc might offer legally binding assurances on the Irish border backstop to help May get her deal through the Commons.

The simple yet vital fact is that the backstop is an essential insurance policy that would ensure an open border unless and until this is provided for by the future UK-EU relationship.

Corbyn also reiterated that there must not be a return to a hard border in Northern Ireland, adding that all steps must be taken to avoid a no-deal Brexit.

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The UK's labyrinthine crisis over European Union membership is approaching its finale with an array of options including no-deal Brexit, a last-minute deal, a snap election, or a delay.

British Prime Minister Theresa May is due in Brussels on Thursday with what she says is a parliamentary mandate to re-open the draft agreement, sealed after 18 months of intense and highly technical negotiations.

May is in Northern Ireland to reassure communities that she can deliver an orderly Brexit that will ensure peace in a province riven by three decades of sectarian conflict until a 1998 accord.

Speaking during a trip to Japan, she said a Brexit agreement was still possible, but first "we must hear from Great Britain how they envision that".

She said family ties and friendship between the two countries are more important than they have ever been.

"We can have those conversations, so we can use the remaining time to perhaps remove the obstacles that have so far stood in the way and find an agreement if everyone is willing".

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Meanwhile, the UK's Food and Drink Federation has always been warning that the possibility of a no-deal Brexit would be bad for British businesses and consumers.

Coveney flew to NY on Tuesday and goes on to Washington, D.C. on Wednesday in a bid to solidify opposition to a hard border in the island of Ireland.

Since then, the Government still does not have sufficient support, especially due to the backstop for Ireland, but it maintains its red lines both in the agreement (to maintain sovereignty over immigration and trade agreements with third countries) as well as in the exit strategy (rejection of the extension of article 50 and the no-deal exit), which makes it increasingly more hard to come to an understanding with the rest of the political forces.

Confirming Thursday's talks, the prime minister's spokesman said: "You can expect her to update the European Commission president on the discussions that have been taking place at home and the way forward".

A majority of people in Northern Ireland voted to stay in the European Union, particularly in the constituencies along the border.

Without the protections offered by the backstop, future regulatory divergence between the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland, in areas such as agriculture, could necessitate the return of customs checks and therefore a "hard border".

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Donald Tusk: Special place in hell for Brexiteers