1. ITV Report

Hard border 'difficult to avoid' in case of no-deal Brexit

An old customs hut in Pettigo, a village that lies on the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic. Credit: UTV

A no-deal Brexit may lead to a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, the European Commission spokesman has suggested.

Margaritis Schinas claimed it is "pretty obvious" that a hard border would be implemented in such a scenario, when asked about the EU commitment's to the peace process.

He replied, "If you like to push me and speculate on what might happen in a no-deal scenario in Ireland, I think it's pretty obvious, you will have a hard border.

Mr Schinas continued, "We are for peace, of course we stand behind the Good Friday Agreement, but that's what a no-deal scenario would entail."

In response, DUP MP Gregory Cambell has said the EU "must spell out what exactly this 'hard border' would look like."

Mr Campbell asked, "How would it be constructed? Where would the employees be drawn from? What steps would be implemented, and by whom to prevent the ease with which people and companies could avoid using the crossings where this 'hard border' was constructed?

He continued, "The peace and stability of Northern Ireland should not be exploited as a bargaining chip by people who appreciate very little what life living on the RoI / NI border is really like.”

Mr Schinas' comments, however, were echoed by the Tánaiste.

Speaking in Dublin, Simon Coveney said, "In the absence of the backstop and a Withdrawal Agreement we have a very difficult job to do to prevent border infrastructure."

The Foreign Affairs Minister claimed his focus remained on the Withdrawal Agreement and the backstop insurance policy.

Poland's foreign minister has suggested a time-limited backstop.