May to reaffirm no hard border commitment on Northern Ireland visit

The British prime minister will visit the border region and Belfast

May to reaffirm no hard border commitment on Northern Ireland visit

British Prime Minister Theresa May leaves 10 Downing Street as she makes her way to the the British parliament | Image: NurPhoto/SIPA USA/PA Images

Downing Street says British Prime Minister Theresa May will "reaffirm her commitment" to a Brexit that avoids a hard border during a two-day visit to Northern Ireland.

She will visit the region on Thursday and Friday.

On Thursday, Mrs May will visit the border area with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Karen Bradley.

She will meet with businesses to listen to their views on working, living and trading across the border.

On Friday Mrs May will deliver a speech in Belfast, which Downing Street says will "emphasise her personal commitment to the strength of the UK's four nations and the solutions set out in the White Paper that address Northern Ireland's unique circumstances."

On restoring devolved government to Northern Ireland, Mrs May is expected to meet with political parties on working towards this goal.

She will also speak to young people to hear their views on Northern Ireland's future.

Speaking ahead of the trip, Mrs May said: "I look forward to hearing views from businesses on the border in Northern Ireland on our departure from the European Union.

"I fully recognise how their livelihoods, families and friends rely on the ability to move freely across the border to trade, live and work on a daily basis.

The Irish border near Newry, Co Down | Image: David Young/PA Wire/PA Images

"That’s why we have ruled out any kind of hard border. Daily journeys will continue to be seamless and there will be no checks or infrastructure at the border to get in the way of this.

"I’ve also been clear we will not accept the imposition of any border down the Irish Sea and we will preserve the integrity of the UK’s internal market and Northern Ireland’s place within it."

It comes amid a tumultuous time at Westminster, where Mrs May narrowly avoided a significant defeat in amid the ongoing political turmoil over her Brexit plans.

A number of pro-European Conservative MPs had put forward an amendment for Britain to remain in a customs union if no trade agreement has been reached by next January 21st.

The amendment - considered a significant challenge to the government - was backed by UK Labour.

However, the amendment was ultimately defeated by the government with 307 votes to 301 - a margin of only six votes.

While former British foreign secretary Boris Johnson has said a 'fog of self-doubt has descended' over the British government's Brexit plans, and claims the Irish border has 'dominated the debate'.