11:00 GMT +323 October 2018
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    A picture shows the Parliament Buildings, the seat of the Northern Ireland Assembly, on the Stormont Estate in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on March 4, 2017

    Theresa May Rules Out NI Hard Border Between Ireland or Great Britain

    © AFP 2018 / Paul FAITH
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    Britain’s Prime Minister continues to find herself stuck between the demands of the European Union for no “hard border” and her DUP partners who fear being distanced from the rest of the UK.

    British Prime Minister has reiterated her government's commitment to preventing the formation of a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland after the United Kingdom leaves the European Union. The Prime Minister restated the commitment after a meeting of the Council of Europe in Brussels at which she was warned by Donald Tusk that she was facing the last opportunity for Britain to "place its cards on the table" and negotiate a final Brexit arrangement before October.

    The dispute has remained unresolved since December 2017 when London and Brussels both committed to maintaining the "regulatory alignment" of Northern Ireland with the EU in order to prevent customs checks and other border controls. Last year's preliminary agreement however, was nearly sunk by the Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland, whose 10 sitting MPs enable the Conservatives to continue in government. The DUP said it would not allow an effective customs border to go up between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom, which would weaken its institutional links to the rest of the country.

    Mrs May has similarly committed to ensuring that Northern Ireland will not be given any status separate to the United Kingdom as a whole.

    The Prime Minister's stated goal to pull the UK out of all of the EU's economic institutions, including the Single Market and Customs Union has complicated her attempts to maintain "frictionless" trade across the Irish border, which Dublin has said is a condition that must be met in order to prevent it vetoing the entire final Brexit settlement. 

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    Tags:
    Brexit negotiations, soft Brexit, Hard Brexit, border dispute, Brexit, Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), EU, British Conservative Party, Customs Union, Donald Tusk, Theresa May, Europe, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom, Ireland
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