Economy

United Kingdom commitment to soft Irish border more than legally enforceable, says Davis

United Kingdom commitment to soft Irish border more than legally enforceable, says Davis

Theresa May will declare a "new sense of optimism" in Brexit talks to MPs today.

The Irish viewpoint matters because the final obstacle cleared by May before sealing last week's deal was finding wording about the Irish border that kept happy both Ireland and the prime minister's backers in Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party, which props up her minority government.

The deal holds out the prospect of Britain remaining aligned with some of the rules of the EU's single market and customs union if no new bilateral trade deal is reached.

The comments came after Britain's Brexit minister David Davis caused a row with Ireland by suggesting that Friday's interim divorce deal was "more a statement of intent than it was a legally enforceable thing".

Ireland's Deputy Prime Minister Simon Coveney hit back against the claim that the deal isn't binding with a Twitter message late Sunday pointing to a clause in Friday's agreement that the commitments "are made and must be upheld in all circumstances, irrespective of the nature of any future agreement". I just do have to be calm'.

Or he may have wanted to ease the fears of some campaigners for Britain to leave the European Union, who say the possibility of having to follow the bloc's rules would mean that they would have Brexit in name only.

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The Brexit Secretary told the BBC's Andrew Marr that the deal reached by British and European Union negotiators last week was not "legally enforceable" and could be scrapped if the European Union doesn't offer Britain satisfactory future trading terms.

"Of course, nothing is agreed until everything is agreed".

Coveney has previously suggested that the EU27 will not hesitate to support Ireland and veto further progress in Brexit negotiations if the United Kingdom government fails to adequately address Ireland's border concerns.

"The arrangements we have agreed to reach the second phase of the talks are entirely consistent with the principles and objectives that I set out in my speeches in Florence and at Lancaster House. They are with Ireland on this because we are making a fair but very firm case and I believe other European countries will stick with Ireland".

Part of last week's agreement in Brussels included a financial settlement of up to £39 billion.