Brexit Secretary David Davis told parliament that he believes a technological solution to the Irish border is achievable
UK’s Davis confident about post-Brexit technology border in Ireland
The UK’s Brexit Secretary David Davis said he is confident that technology can create a non-visible border between Ireland and Northern Ireland after the country leaves the EU.
Mr Davis made the comments to parliament during an update on the Brexit talks, which resumed last week in Brussels.
Both EU and British negotiators have expressed a desire to ensure there is not a return to the hard border of the past in Ireland.
The Government has previously touted the option of using surveillance cameras to allow free trade and movement to continue between Northern Ireland and the Republic. However, the idea has been met with opposition, including from Irish premier Leo Varadkar, who said that the border was Britain’s problem to solve and that Irish work on technological solutions would cease.
Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, said yesterday that "a lot more substantial work" is required to preserve Irish cross-border co-operation after Brexit.
Mr Barnier was speaking after a meeting with Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney.
The EU has insisted that “sufficient progress” must be made over the border issue, as well as on citizens’ rights and the so-called “divorce bill”, before trade talks can commence.
During his speech to parliament, Mr Davis also said that Britain and the EU have very different legal stances over the divorce bill that the country should pay as it leaves the bloc.
"It is clear that the two sides have very different legal stances," Davis said. "Michel Barnier and I agreed that we do not anticipate making incremental progress on the final shape of the financial deal in every round ... it is also clear there are significant differences to be bridged in this sector."
Meanwhile, the Labour Party ratcheted up its opposition to the government’s Brexit plans by declaring it would seek to amend its European Union Withdrawal Bill.
The bill is designed to facilitate the task of transferring European law into British law after the UK leaves the bloc. In order to do that, it gives ministers the power to modify rules without full parliamentary scrutiny - something that Labour said was unacceptable.
In a statement, the opposition party said that as it stood, it would be unable to vote for the bill.
“We cannot vote for a bill that unamended would let government ministers grab powers from parliament to slash people’s rights at work and reduce protection for consumers and the environment,” Labour said. “The government’s EU Withdrawal Bill would allow Conservative ministers to set vital terms on a whim, including of Britain’s exit payment, without democratic scrutiny.”
Prime Minister Theresa May is also vulnerable to a rebellion over the bill on her own Tory side, given she does not have a majority in parliament.
The bill is set to be debated by parliament on Thursday, with the first vote on Monday.