Northern Ireland news

David Davis: Invisible border 'could be maintained relatively easily'

Brexit Secretary David Davis (left) and Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon leaving Downing Street following a Cabinet meeting. Picture by Stefan Rousseau, Press Association

AN invisible border could be maintained "relatively" easily so long as Britain agrees a zero-tariff trade deal with the European Union, the Brexit secretary has said.

David Davis told House of Lords committee yesterday that tariffs on trade between the UK and the EU would prove problematic.

"If we achieve an outcome, as we hope to, which maintains tariff-free trade, then maintaining an invisible border will be relatively easy - I nearly said 'very easy', that would be wrong," he said.

"If we end up with a tariff arrangement, then we have got a real problem and dealing with that is difficult."

A zero-tariff deal may not eliminate the need for border checks.

Mr Davis said that the biggest non-tariff problem for the border is food and agricultural safety.

The EU imposes strict safety standards on food and agricultural imports which are checked as they enter the bloc.

Meanwhile, Mr Davis said he expected the UK's divorce deal with the EU, which covers citizens' rights, the border and Britain's financial settlement, was likely to "favour" the Union, while the trade deal would be beneficial to both sides.

"The withdrawal agreement, on balance, will probably favour the Union in terms of things like money and so on, whereas the future relationship will favour both sides and will be important to both of us," he told peers.

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