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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 13 November 2018

Britain must move on Brexit negotiations and Ireland border, Germany says

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said in an interview that Theresa May needs to resolve the border issue between the two Irish countries

Anti-Brexit billboards are seen between Newry and Dundalk in Northern Ireland ahead of the border with Republic of Ireland. PA
Anti-Brexit billboards are seen between Newry and Dundalk in Northern Ireland ahead of the border with Republic of Ireland. PA

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has said in a interview on Wednesday that the British government needs to get moving on the Brexit negotiations, including the Northern Ireland border issue.

On Tuesday, Brexit minister Dominic Raab said Britain had put forward a “real offer” to a win a deal on leaving the European Union by October, suggesting the government would not shift much from its agreed negotiating stance.

But Mr Maas told the Funke group of newspapers that "in order for the departure to be carried out in as orderly a way as possible, the British government will need to move.”

“On the one hand on the issue of the border between Northern Ireland and EU member the Irish Republic and secondly on the undivided internal market, where Britain cannot cherry-pick,” he added.

The status of the border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic is one of the main stumbling blocks in the Brexit negotiations.

The British Prime Minister Theresa May agreed in December in principle to a binding “backstop” to ensure a soft border irrespective of future EU–UK ties, but later baulked at an EU proposal to achieve this by treating Northern Ireland as a separate customs area to the rest of the United Kingdom.

Mr Maas said the time pressure was strong, adding: “But we won’t let ourselves be put under pressure. We won’t enter any deals that would be to the detriment of Europe.”