Theresa May to visit Irish border for first time since Brexit referendum on Thursday
British Prime Minister Theresa May is set to make her first visit to the Irish border since the Brexit referendum tomorrow.
The Conservative Party leader had been criticised for not hearing first-hand from locals living on what is to become the UK’s only land border with the European Union.
The border remains a crucial sticking point in Brexit negotiations with the EU, amid a dispute on how to maintain free flow of movement across the 310-mile frontier between Northern Ireland and the Republic.
Mrs May will meet business representatives on the Northern Ireland side of the border on Thursday.
The following day she will deliver a speech in Belfast focusing on how her vision of Brexit, outlined in last week’s Government white paper, will impact Northern Ireland and the border.
The purpose of the trip will be to reaffirm her “commitment to the union and a Brexit that works for the whole United Kingdom”. She will also say there will be no hard border with the Republic and no border “down the Irish Sea”.
Her spokeswoman said Ms May will meet business people at the border and listen to their views on the UK quitting the European Union. She will hear “what working, living and trading across the border means to them”.
“The prime minister will reaffirm her commitment to a Brexit that avoids a hard border and protects the Belfast Agreement,” said the spokeswoman.
“I look forward to hearing views from businesses on the border in Northern Ireland on our departure from the European Union,” said Ms May on Wednesday. “I fully recognise how their livelihoods, families and friends rely on the ability to move freely across the border to trade, live and work on a daily basis.
“That’s why we have ruled out any kind of hard border. Daily journeys will continue to be seamless and there will be no checks or infrastructure at the border to get in the way of this.
“I’ve also been clear we will not accept the imposition of any border down the Irish Sea and we will preserve the integrity of the UK’s internal market and Northern Ireland’s place within it.
“From the start of the negotiations, the UK government has put Northern Ireland’s unique circumstances at the heart of our negotiations. And nothing will undermine our commitment to protecting the Belfast Agreement.
“I also look forward to meeting political parties on working together to restore stable and effective devolved government for the benefit of everyone in Northern Ireland.”