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Brexit: Irish border 'pretty much top priority' says David Davis

Brexit secretary David Davis arrives at BBC Broadcasting House in London to appear on the Andrew Marr Show
Brendan Hughes

THE Brexit secretary has insisted the British government is "determined" to ensure a frictionless Irish border in reaching a deal with the European Union.

David Davis yesterday said the border has been placed "pretty much as our top priority" and it is an issue they have looked at "very closely".

He told BBC One's Andrew Marr Show there is a "combination of determination" on all sides to achieve a solution.

"One of the plans being put together is how on earth we create an invisible, frictionless border between north and south, between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland," he said.

"We have talked to the Irish government about this. The first foreign trip I made was to Dublin. They're on side.

"We are determined to do it, the commission are on side. The commission remember had a part to play in the peace process, indeed Michel Barnier had a part to play in the peace process.

"They are absolutely determined in their minds that this is not going to go wrong so that's the combination of determination that exists here."

Speaking in Belfast yesterday, Sinn Féin's Gerry Adams repeated calls for north to have a "special designated status within the EU".

"This is the only logical way to avoid a hard economic border, job losses and business closures," he said.

Meanwhile, Mr Davis confirmed the government is working on contingency plans in case the UK crashes out of the European Union without a deal.

He insisted the country would be ready if the negotiations "go wrong" and the preparations would stop the country going off "a cliff edge".

It comes after a powerful committee warned that failure to reach an agreement would be "very destructive" for both the UK and the EU.

The Commons Foreign Affairs Committee said there was real possibility the talks could end with no deal but said it had seen no evidence of serious contingency planning by government.

It said ministers should order all Whitehall departments to draw up a "no deal plan", warning that failure to prepare for such an outcome would be a "serious dereliction of duty".

British prime minister Theresa May has repeatedly said she would rather walk away without a settlement than agree to a "bad deal".

The Brexit bill returns to MPs today after two defeats in the Lords. They have been urged by the government to vote for the bill that will allow the prime minister to trigger the start of withdrawal talks.

Mr Davis has called on them to kick out measures introduced by peers that would give parliament a ''meaningful'' vote on the divorce deal and guarantees on protections for EU nationals living in Britain when they consider them later today.

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