The U.K. government said there will be no “international border” between Northern Ireland and Great Britain | Paul Faith/AFP via Getty Images
UK holds its nose on Northern Irish border
After months of resisting the idea, the UK has accepted there will be customs checks on goods crossing the Irish Sea.
Updated 5/20/20, 8:01 PM CET
LONDON — The U.K. on Wednesday finally admitted there will be a post-Brexit trade border down the Irish Sea.
In its plan detailing how the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland will function once the U.K. leaves the EU customs union, the U.K. government said there will be no “international border” between Northern Ireland and Great Britain.
That is a very different thing to a trade border — and showed the journey Britain has been on.
EU leaders had become increasingly frustrated at suggestions Britain was not taking seriously the scale of administration required to implement the Withdrawal Agreement Boris Johnson struck with Brussels last year. The deal will keep Northern Ireland in the customs union of both territories, in order to maintain an open border with the Republic of Ireland under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.
It means Northern Ireland can reap the benefits of U.K. trade deals — a major argument for Brexit — but will have to comply with EU rules, placing a protective customs ring around the nation.
Former Prime Minister Theresa May allowed herself an “I told you so” moment.