Soft Brexit “one clear way” to avoid hard border - Coveney

The Foreign Affairs Minister said the British people did not vote to leave the customs union or the single market

The Minister for Foreign Affairs has warned that “history should not be rewritten” to suggest the Brexit referendum result demanded a UK exit from the EU customs union.

Simon Coveney was speaking to business leaders at a breakfast organised by the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce.

He called for a move towards a soft-Brexit whereby the UK remains in the single market and the customs union.

He said this was the “one clear way” to ensure there would be no customs border on the island of Ireland.

He said the British people did not vote to leave the customs union or the single market adding that history should not be rewritten to pretend that they did.

Northern Ireland Executive

Speaking later in the afternoon, Minister Coveney said formal talks aimed at reviving the north's power sharing Executive could get underway next week.

He met with parties in Belfast earlier in a bid to re-start the stalled negotiations.

Northern Ireland has been without a power-sharing government since January in the fallout of a renewable heating scandal.

Minister Coveney says restoring the institutions is an urgent priority – adding that the North needs a voice in order to deal with the ongoing issues surrounding Brexit:

“There are enough pressures at the moment in the context of Brexit negotiations and the many other challenges that we face together, without the ongoing absence of an assembly and an executive in Northern Ireland representing the interests of the people here,” he said.

Meanwhile the DUP leader Arlene Foster has moved to moved to clarify comments made by some of her party members relating to the negotiations.

It comes after members of her party tweeted this week saying devolution is dead, and that direct rule from London is almost inevitable.

Ms Foster this evening insisted that her party members still want to see Devolution – but are frustrated at the ongoing stalemate.