Ireland issues Brexit WARNING: Dublin threat as EU prepares for crunch talks

Ireland issues Brexit WARNING: Dublin threat as EU prepares for crunch talks

The Republic of today warned the UK there can be “no backsliding” on the Irish border issue, which has threatened to derail .

Dublin said the Irish border, which currently stretches hundreds of miles across the island, dividing towns and even houses, must remain in its current invisible state. 

In December, Prime Minister Theresa May agreed to a fall-back option in the event of no deal between the UK and the EU, promising Northern Ireland would not become economically unalligned with the Republic and thus ensuring the border can remain soft. 

But Mrs May has also repeatedly confirmed Northern Ireland will be leaving the single market and customs union - something the Republic will remain a member of, meaning controversial physcial infrastructure including customs checks will become a necessity. 

And in recent weeks Mrs May has even attempted to reverse her position, saying "no British Prime Minister" could ever agree to the terms Dublin and Brussels claimed she had agreed to in December. 

The Dublin government has demanded the European Union ensure Britain is held to its word on an interim accord about the border before EU leaders offer London a transition deal.

EU diplomats and officials say a deal on the transition, a key issue for British business, is close to agreement after negotiations through the weekend.

Ireland has made clear it needed renewed assurances from Britain there can be a "backstop" arrangement, if all else fails, to avoid a disruptive "hard border" after Brexit.

The Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said: “The EU27 have been consistent that there can be no backsliding on any part of December's agreement.

"This highlights the importance of the UK engaging meaningfully on all aspects of the Withdrawal Agreement, including the fallback Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland."

An Irish government spokesman added Coveney was looking forward to hearing the assessment of EU negotiator Michel Barnier on whether that is happening.

He said: "This will be necessary to move the negotiations on at Friday's European Council."

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