Irish Border Issue Hasn't Gone Away, You Know, Negotiator Says

(Bloomberg) -- The Irish border question remains despite the assurances provided by U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May last month to unlock Brexit talks.

The issue “hasn’t gone away, you know, ” Irish Brexit negotiator Rory Montgomery said at an event in Dublin on Wednesday.

Among the challenges facing May are reconciling the conflicting pledges she made last month, Montgomery said. May guaranteed no hard border will re-emerge on the island of Ireland after Brexit, with Northern Ireland playing by the same rules as those in the south if all else fails. At the same time, May gave an assurance that no barriers between Northern Ireland and the rest of the U.K. will come into play.

Those two objectives could be mutually exclusive, BMI Research said last week.

Montgomery said another challenge facing both the European Union and U.K. is how to give legal effect to last month’s accord -- this week, Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament’s Brexit coordinator said the agreement needs to be formalized with “rock solid guarantees.”

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