United Kingdom and European Union edge toward Brexit deal as Ireland is final hurdle

Ireland can plug UK construction industry’s digital skills gap

A spokesman for Tusk, who chairs European Union summits and is overseeing the Brexit process, said in a tweet on Thursday that the 4 p.m. (1600 GMT) meeting would "discuss #Brexit and how to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland".

A Home Rule Bill might have let the two countries take their distance peacefully and gradually, while retaining close links - or maybe not, but it was worth a try.

Speaking before the European Parliament's constitutional affairs committee on Tuesday, Charles Tannock - who campaigned for the United Kingdom to remain in the European Union - said people in the province should be given a choice.

Speaking at another committee hearing in Westminster on Wednesday, Northern Ireland minister Chloe Smith said the proposal was "not government policy" while Brexit minister Robin Walker said that the Government had been "very clear" that the result of the Brexit referendum applied across the whole UK.

"The people of the North spoke very loudly and very clearly during the EU Referendum affirming that we wanted to remain full members of the European Union".

In principle, Britain flouncing out of the European Union shouldn't hurt anybody except the British themselves, but the UK's Irish border is a nightmare.

Ireland can plug UK construction industry’s digital skills gap
Enterprise Ireland’s Construction Adviser John Hunt

"If the Republic of Ireland is going to keep shouting at our border and telling us that it is all doom and gloom and we are not going to get a proper relationship, that interferes in the negotiation process". Not just financially but indeed a higher cost over many, many years.

May can not defy the DUP on this or her government will fall - and the Conservatives would probably lose the subsequent election, putting her nemesis, the dreaded Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, in power.

Yet, with the deadline looming, the Prime Minister denied claims a deal has already been struck on the UK's payout to Brussels - although she did not correct suggestions a Brexit bill could be as much as £50bn or more.

The set up would allow Northern Ireland to leave the customs union with the rest of Britain but still operate different rules on cross-border trade to the mainland UK.

The Department for Exiting the EU (DExEU) refused to comment on a report in The Times that British negotiators had put forward a proposal to devolve powers to Northern Ireland to enable "customs convergence" with the Republic in areas such as agriculture and energy in an attempt to break the deadlock.

Mr Paisley told the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee the "pussyfooting needs to stop". Then the border would remain open, and there would be no Irish veto, and a reasonable deal on post-Brexit trade would be possible.




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