British expected to offer free movement for Irish nationals and call for customs border in Brexit papers

British expected to offer free movement for Irish nationals and call for customs border in Brexit papers

It is believed new British position papers on Brexit to be published this week will include a Scehngen-Zone style offer of continued free movement for Irish nationals and calls for a custom border between the two countries.

British Prime Minister Theresa May is expected to travel back to Downing Street this week as ministers prepare to flesh out their negotiating position on Brexit.

The return of the British Prime Minister coincides with the publication this week of a series of new position papers on Brexit - including one on the fraught issue of the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic.

The Irish Times are reporting this morning that that position paper will include proposals for a customs Border between the North and the South.

Citing London and DUP sources the Irish Times have suggested the paper will call for the creation of a “light touch” border between the Republic and Northern Ireland.

They go on to suggest that Britsh authorities will seek to lessen the impact of the Border by making the Border as “seamless and frictionless as possible”.

This, they suggest, is expected to include proposals to have an “electronic border” where possible, to have spot checks of vehicles, to avail of number plate recognition technology and to also use CCTV cameras to try to monitor the movement of goods across the Border.

Meanwhile, there will then be a further series of papers in the run up to the European Council in Brussels in October, setting out the Government’s vision of Britain’s future relations with the EU, including the crucial issue of the post-Brexit customs arrangements.

The move comes amid complaints from Brussels about a lack of clarity about the British negotiating position.

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EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier is reported to have warned his first two rounds of talks with Brexit Secretary David Davis, covering the opening issues of the Irish border, the rights of EU citizens in the UK, and Britain’s "divorce bill", had made limited progress.

British Ministers hope the release of the position papers will convince the EU side that they will be ready to move on to the next phase of the negotiations, including a new free trade deal with the bloc, in the autumn.

Mr Davis said: "I’ve launched this process because with time of the essence, we need to get on with negotiating the bigger issues around our future partnership to ensure we get a deal that delivers a strong UK and a strong EU.

"It’s what businesses across Europe have called on both sides to do and will demonstrate that the UK is ready for the job."

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