European Union tells Britain to "face up to hard facts" on Brexit

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Recognising the "very particular challenges" that Brexit brings for both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, May says that a hard border must be avoided and that "physical infrastructure at the border, or any related checks and controls, have been ruled out", whilst also rejecting the idea of creating a customs and regulatory border between the island of Ireland and the Great Britain (i.e., the Irish Sea), since breaking up the UK's own common market is unacceptable.

How do you solve a problem like the Irish border?

Mike Cherry, national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, said discussions over future trade deals were "clearly important" but the priority for firms now was getting clarity about the immediate future with the European Union after Brexit day.

However, despite Brexit not actually happening until next year, manufacturers will have to make a decision sooner regarding their future in the UK.

The second option Theresa May put forward in her speech was a customs arrangement whereby a smart border utilising technology could be erected. The UK will look to match European Union regulatory standards (and possibly adopt identical rules) to ensure that trade in most goods remains as free as possible. A trusted traders scheme would alleviate some concerns but this system could still be open to abuse.

Barnier also made it clear that if Britain wanted to remain in some European Union agencies like those on chemicals, aviation or medicines, it would also have to recognize the authority of the EU's top court in those areas.

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Varadkar, who is now on a tour to the United States ahead of St. Patrick's Day, dismissed the claims on Monday morning stating that "it is not a solution that we envisage". It would be disastrous for Northern Ireland economically and it violates the principle of consent - a core principle of the Belfast Agreement.

Mr Varadkar says certain tensions could be re-ignited by a hard border. The DUP's involvement is significant as they ensure the Conservatives have enough votes to govern a majority in parliament.

A draft joint position from the remaining 27 European Union members, seen by Reuters ahead of its official publication later today, said the bloc was determined to foster a close partnership with Britain. The DUP, being a unionist party in Northern Ireland, is completely opposed to any option that would separate Northern Ireland from the United Kingdom economically, as this would be an effective annexation of Northern Ireland by the European Union in their eyes.

It will include a call for no reduction in social and democratic rights in Northern Ireland after Brexit. It ensured an open border where communities, people, and goods could freely cross from one side to the other: now, this border is nearly invisible.

The future strength or weakness of Sterling is very much linked to the future outcome from Brexit, overall expectations on the final deal from Brexit are taking time to finalise but thankfully we do seem to be getting ever closer to understanding at least the ultimate direction.

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