LONDON — Theresa May insisted Wednesday that her government’s assurances there would be no hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland post Brexit would be delivered through a trade deal in the second phase of Brexit talks.
Taking questions from MPs during the weekly Prime Ministers’ Questions, May said: “We will ensure that there is no hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. We will do that while we respect the constitutional integrity of the United Kingdom, and while we respect the internal market and protect the internal market of the United Kingdom.”
“And those Labour members who shout ‘how,’ that is the whole point of the second phase of the negotiations … because we will deliver this, we aim to deliver this as part of our overall trade deal between the United Kingdom and the European Union and we can only talk about that when we get into phase two.”
Her stance appears to diverge from that of the Irish government. In an interview with POLITICO, Helen McEntee, Ireland’s minister for European affairs, regards the agreement on the Northern Irish border in phase one as a minimal fallback position if trade talks fail. “Essentially what we are talking about is having a safety net or a backstop,” she said of the potential deal.