Oct 2, 2019

Europe Politics: Boris Johnson promises no checks 'at or near' Irish border as new Brexit offer is delivered

David Reid

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson delivers his keynote speech to delegates on the final day of the annual Conservative Party conference at the Manchester Central convention complex, in Manchester, north-west England on October 2, 2019.
OLI SCARFF | AFP | Getty Images
U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson addressed his first Conservative Party conference on Wednesday with a promise to deliver Brexit that would “avoid checks at or near the border in Northern Ireland.”
Johnson told delegates in Manchester, England that a fresh text outlining how Britain and Northern Ireland can leave the European Union is being presented to officials in Brussels on Wednesday.
The Conservative leader used his speech to emphasize his opinion that the British people have had enough of discussing Brexit and just want it done.
“Voters are desperate for us to focus on their other priorities — what people want, what leavers want, what remainers want, what the whole world wants — is to move on,” he said before adding: “That is why we are coming out of the EU on October 31. Let’s get Brexit done — we can, we must, and we will,” Johnson added.
Johnson added that if the U.K. fails to get a Brexit deal because of what is “essentially a technical discussion” then there is no doubt that Britain will leave without one.

Irish border issue

The key outstanding question for Brexit negotiations is how to solve the Irish border question which arises if Northern Ireland, which is a part of the United Kingdom, leaves the EU under the same terms as mainland Britain.
To applause, Johnson told delegates that “we will under no circumstances have checks at or near the border in Northern Ireland. We will respect the peace process and the Good Friday Agreement.”
The prime minister added that his deal “will go further and protect the existing regulatory arrangements for farmers and other businesses on both sides of the border.”
Prior to the speech, sterling had fallen in value as investors doubted the proposals would receive warm approval from Brussels. It lost around 0.4% to sit at $1.2250 just before midday London time.
His plan from the U.K. reportedly involves Northern Ireland staying under EU single market regulations for agri-food and manufactured goods from 2021 until at least 2025, but not in the EU’s customs union.
As of 2025, the Northern Ireland Assembly would then decide whether to move toward U.K. or European rules.
Prior to the speech the Irish Deputy Prime Minister Simon Coveney told Sky News that he was “not too encouraged,” by the latest proposals from Downing Street.
“Certainly, from what we’re reading this morning, I would not be too encouraged by it. Essentially if (Johnson) is proposing customs checks on the island of Ireland, then I don’t think that is going to be the basis of an agreement.”

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