British PM tells business leaders in Northern Ireland no hard border under Brexit plan

Source: Xinhua| 2018-07-20 06:09:38|Editor: Yamei
Video PlayerClose

LONDON, July 19 (Xinhua) -- British Prime Minister Theresa May arrived in Northern Ireland Thursday on a two-day visit to tell political leaders that her Brexit blueprint will deliver the promise of no border with the neighboring Irish Republic.

In a keynote speech to be delivered Friday in Belfast, May is to emphasis that the European Commission's backstop proposals for the island of Ireland are in breach of the Belfast peace agreement and could never be accepted.

As May was busy with promoting the trade deal she wants with Brussels, the remaining 27-members of the EU were advised by officials to start preparations for a no-deal Brexit.

Her newly appointed Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab travelled to Brussels Thursday for his first meeting with the EU's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier.

During the meeting, Raab, who replaced David Davies following his resignation last week, offered to continue to meet Barnier throughout the summer to intensify the negotiations.

In her speech Friday at Belfast's Waterfront Hall, May will reconfirm her firm rejection of the EU's backstop proposal which would mean the creation of a border between Northern Ireland and the rest of Britain.

May insists that the notion of a hard border is almost inconceivable.

"It would not be acceptable for the thousands of people who cross and re-cross between the UK and Ireland every day or for firms whose supply and distribution chains span the border," May says.

The prime minister said that under the agreement reached at her Chequers meeting with senior ministers, Britain set out how to resolve the border issue through a close future partnership between Britain and the EU.

In Northern Ireland May travelled to the border and visited a famous pottery at Belleek in County Fermanagh, her first visit to the 500-kilometer border area since the 2016 referendum when people in Britain voted to leave the EU.

Security was intense in the village before and during the visit as owners of businesses along the border arrived to meet May.

May spent the day meeting politicians and business delegations to reassure them about her commitment to Brexit.

"Daily journeys will continue to be seamless and there will be no checks or infrastructure at the border to get in the way of this," May said during her tour.

May was welcomed to Fermanagh by Arlene Foster, leader of the biggest political party in Northern Ireland, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).

During her visit May is also planning to hold talks with the DUP as well as the second largest party, the Sinn Fein in a bid to kick-start the Northern Ireland devolved assembly which has been suspended for over 18 months because of a fall-out between the two main parties.

Sinn Fein leader in Northern Ireland Michelle O'Neill said ahead of May's arrival in Fermanagh: "She will hear at first hand the catastrophic implications for our economy, our rights and our future. The fears that businesses have for their future survival. The justified fears of individuals in relation to the diminution of their rights. She will hear the dismay and alarm that exists here in this community."

The Guardian newspaper in London quoted Rabb as describing his meeting in Brussels with Barnier as very good and constructive.

"We talked about the progress we've made on the withdrawal agreement. It was also an opportunity to present the white paper on the future relationship we want with the EU. We've only got 12 weeks really left to nail down the details of the agreement, so I set out our proposals, and offered to meet with throughout the summer to intensify negotiations, to get some energy, get some drive and get some heat on them to make sure we can conclude this agreement in good time."