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Theresa May is set on a risky Brexit path

Having come under intense pressure from the hardline Eurosceptics in her party, Theresa May has ruled out staying in the customs union, a move that has heightened fears over a hard border in Ireland when Britain leaves the EU.

Monday proved to be a dispiriting day for those hoping to see the British prime minister - someone who is by inclination a Remainer - standing up to the Brexiteers and placing the interests of the UK before those of her party.

Mrs May is now set on a path that is unpredictable and fraught with risk.

In terms of people living on this island, leaving the customs union makes the prospect of border controls much more likely.

This was underlined by EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier who said that without a customs union and outside the single market, barriers to trade and goods are 'unavoidable'.

This is not what people living on both sides of the border want to hear and it is not clear where this leaves December's hard won agreement committing the UK to 'full alignment' with the rules of the customs union following Brexit.

Brexit secretary David Davis, who has not yet deigned to visit the border region, said the UK wanted a comprehensive free trade agreement while still having the opportunity to strike deals across the rest of the world.

Business leaders are urging the British government to remain in the customs union, where there are already well established trading arrangements.

Moving outside this arrangement will raise the prospect of extensive customs checks at UK ports, something that is likely to lead to lengthy delays and additional costs for haulage firms and businesses generally.

We must remember that we are just one year away from the official date of the UK withdrawal from the European Union yet many of the fundamental issues are nowhere near being resolved.

Mr Davis may claim the British position is clear but as far as the border is concerned it is anything but.

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