Theresa May, U.K.’s prime minister, departs number 10 Downing Street to attend a weekly questions and answers session in Parliament in London, U.K. (Photographer: Luke MacGregor/Bloomberg)

May to Reaffirm Brexit Vow in Belfast Talk: No Hard Irish Border

(Bloomberg) -- U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May will reaffirm her pledge to keep the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland open following Brexit, saying the notion of a hard border is “almost inconceivable.”

On the second of a two-day visit to Northern Ireland on Friday, when May will meet with businesses on the border in Fermanagh, she will urge the European Union to accept her proposals for a free trade area on goods.

Avoiding customs checks at the border with Ireland is the most critical issue that’s holding up Brexit negotiations between the EU and U.K. as May has spent months trying to coax her divided cabinet, the House of Commons and peers into unifying behind proposals to keep the border open.

May to Reaffirm Brexit Vow in Belfast Talk: No Hard Irish Border

In a speech in Northern Ireland’s capital city Belfast on Friday morning, she will once again reject the EU’s backstop proposal for resolving the issue, saying it’s in breach of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement that sought to create political stability in Northern Ireland.

“The economic and constitutional dislocation of a formal ‘third country’ customs border within our own country is something I will never accept and I believe no British Prime Minister could ever accept,” she will reiterate.

Her speech comes at the end of another tense week for May after months of Brexit crisis that included ministerial resignations and close votes, and is ahead of the summer recess next week.

Instead, she will promote the U.K.’s proposed free trade area on goods.

“Our job is not to deal with Brexit in theory, but to make a success of it in practice for all of our people,” she will say.

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