Brexit: UK won’t impose border checks in Ireland

STRASBOURG, France (AP) — Britain’s government said it won’t impose new checks and controls on goods at the Northern Ireland-Republic of Ireland border if the United Kingdom (UK) leaves the European Union without an agreement on future relations.

The policy is part of temporary tariff regime unveiled yesterday to inform lawmakers who will vote on whether to eliminate the possibility of a no-deal exit from the EU. The regime will last for up to 12 months.

As part of the plan, the government said there would be no tariffs on 87 per cent of imports by value, a “modest liberalisation” compared with current trade rules.

A mixture of tariffs and quotas will apply to beef, lamb, poultry and some dairy “to support farmers and producers who have historically been protected through high EU tariffs.”

The European Parliament’s chief Brexit official has questioned whether a short extension of the March 29 Brexit deadline can be given if Britain doesn’t emerge from its political chaos on the issue.

Guy Verhofstadt said that in the wake of the UK Parliament’s rejection of the Brexit deal, the European legislature had no reason to act on pushing back the deadline to avoid a chaotic British exit from the bloc.

A lorry arrives at the Port of Dover, southern England. – AFP

Verhofstadt said that “I don’t see reason to give any extension if first of all we don’t know what the majority position is of the House of Commons.”

He said that “we are waiting now for a proposal coming from London. It is now in London that they have to find a way out of this and break the deadlock.”

The European Union’s economic commissioner said the British Parliament has squandered its last chance to secure a deal smoothing the way for Brexit. Pierre Moscovici has told France-2 television that the EU has “done everything we could do” to reassure British lawmakers, who rejected British Prime Minister Theresa May’s EU divorce deal for a second time on Tuesday.

Moscovici said “the train has passed two times” and the EU will not renegotiate the deal before the scheduled Brexit date of March 29. He left the door open to an eventual delay if the British request it, but only if there’s a clear justification.

He said the British have already said what they don’t want, and now “it’s up to the British to say what they want.”

Moscovici said on Tuesday’s vote increases chances of a British departure that is “disorderly, brutal, like a cliff,” including sudden new customs rules and trade chaos. Germany’s foreign minister said the UK Parliament’s rejection of the Brexit deal negotiated on Britain’s departure from the European Union was “reckless.”

Heiko Maas said the EU made “far-reaching additional offers and assurances” at Britain’s request this week.