Ireland `Can Count on Us' in Brexit Border Fight, Merkel Says

(Bloomberg) -- Ireland can be sure of German support as it demands Britain avoids the re-emergence of a hard border following Brexit, Chancellor Angela Merkel said.

“Ireland can count on us – and that isn’t based on any other conditions,” Merkel said at a news conference after meeting Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar in Berlin on Tuesday. “That’s valid in itself.”

U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May on Monday agreed there needed to be a backstop plan for the Irish border if it’s not solved through the future trade relationship, but gaps remain on what exactly it should be. While the EU has suggested Northern Ireland could effectively remain in the customs union to avoid a border after Brexit, May branded a detailed plan laying out how that might work as unacceptable.

“The United Kingdom has agreed that the backstop solution to ensure the avoidance of a hard border will form part of the legal text of the withdrawal agreement,” Varadkar said. “Inclusion is absolutely essential to avoid any doubt and I must be clear that it will apply unless and until a workable alternative agreed solution is found.”

Varadkar said a future trading arrangement “close to a customs union” would solve a lot of the problems around Irish border puzzle.

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