Ireland warns of ‘corrosive’ impact of physical border after Brexit

The Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs has said a time limit on the back-stop deal post Brexit is a “deal breaker”.

Simon Coveney, who is also the country’s deputy leader, made the comments on Friday at a Getting Ireland Brexit Ready event at a university in Galway.

“It is a deal breaker,” Mr Coveney said.

“We need to insure that we can reassure communities in the island of Ireland that they’re not going to face the corrosive impact of a physical border reemerging on the island of Ireland, bringing back memories of the past, the requirement of security around border checks and so on.

“We have 300 road crossings between Ireland and Northern Ireland. It’s a 300 kilometre border.

“The idea that we would try and stop commercial traffic crossing that when you don’t even know when you’re crossing the border today because it’s so seamless.”

He likened the backstop to a form of insurance for both sides, similar to a household taking out fire cover.

When speaking to ITV News, Mr Coveney said the backstop “needs to be there unless, or until, something better comes along”.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald made similar comments about the backstop over the last few days.

The notion of a time-limited backstop was proposed for trade between the UK and EU after Brexit, with an “expected” end date of 2021.

It would see the UK match EU trade tariffs temporarily in order to avoid a hard border post-Brexit.

Mr Coveney has also said it is now unlikely that new British proposals on the backstop will be published before a a critical EU summit next week, admitting that an extra summit in November will “probably be needed” to reach a deal.

The Minister was meeting with businesses from Galway and further afield as they learned about a range of supports available to help them get ready for Britain’s exit from the EU.