Sir, You report that the EU is “preparing to accept a frictionless Irish border after Brexit” (News, Sep 17) and is planning “to use technological solutions to minimise customs checks”. Your article says that Sabine Weyand, the deputy to Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiatior, told EU ambassadors, “these controls would not have to happen at a border”.
This appears to be a plan for the EU’s preferred option of a border between Northern Ireland and Great Britain. Dividing our country with an internal frontier remains unacceptable, but the practical ideas for controls that take place away from the border, which are now apparently being considered by Brussels, could equally well be applied to the land border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
This is in line with what European Research Group MPs set out in our paper published last week. If the EU accepts this principle, it should resolve their needless fear that a drive-through customs frontier with the Republic of Ireland is a threat to the integrity of the single market.
It therefore also removes the imperative behind the Chequers proposals, which require the UK to accept many EU rules and which therefore do not “take back control”. The way should be open for the government to return to their original plan for a “Canada-plus” free trade agreement, offered by the president of the European Council, Donald Tusk, in March.
Owen Paterson MP; David Davis MP; Theresa Villiers MP; Lord Trimble; Maria Caulfield MP
To read the letter on the Times website, click here.