James Brokenshire said a new customs partnership could be established or a “highly streamlined approach” to customs could be taken post-Brexit.
“We set out two proposals in relation to how we would deal with the issue of tariffs, how we would deal with those sorts of elements in relation to customs, whether that be a new customs partnership where we would effectively apply a similar or the same tariff that the EU currently applies to goods coming into the EU, or a highly streamlined approach with effectively exemptions that would apply for small business,” Mr Brokenshire told Sky News.
It comes after the Government came out strongly to claim Ireland and the EU would be holding the UK to the agreement reached over the border.
Reacting to comments made by Brexit secretary David Davis, who said Friday’s deal was “a statement of intent” rather than a legally binding agreement, a number of ministers maintained that the progress document had ensured that there will be no hard border.
Minister of State for European Affairs Helen McEntee said that, as far as the Government was concerned, Friday’s agreement “is what will happen”.
“It’s very, very clear, in the absence of UK being able to negotiate this free-standing, close personal relationship and trade arrangement with the rest of the EU, there will be a fall-safe in that areas that pertain to the single market and the customs union that are linked not just to the Good Friday agreement, but also the area of co-operation North and South, not just now but into the future, would be aligned,” she said.
Agriculture Minister Michael Creed said: “We set out our stall very early on in the context of these negotiations on what we wanted from phase one. That was accepted by the negotiating team as a critical foundation into the future. We have achieved everything that we set out. We negotiated in good faith, we had a hierarchy of objectives, the critical one from our point of view was that there would be no hard border.
Government chief whip Joe McHugh said Ireland has the “solid support” of other EU states over the border.