Theresa May says border forms "hugely important part of British and Irish identities"

The British PM is on a whirlwind tour of the UK to mark one year until Brexit

Theresa May says border forms "hugely important part of British and Irish identities"

Prime Minister Theresa May is shown around Fairview Farm by owners Stephen and Susanne Jackson and their three daughters Hannah, Abbie and Emily (left to right not given) in Bangor, Northern Ireland. Picture by: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire/PA Images

Theresa May has reiterated her commitment to avoiding a hard border during a visit to Northern Ireland.

The British Prime Minister is on a whirlwind tour across the UK today to mark exactly a year until the UK formally leaves the EU.

As part of the tour, she is visiting locations in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Earlier she visited local farmers in Bangor, where she insisted Northern Ireland and farming are 'integral parts' of the UK and its future.

She said: "My mission is to deliver a Brexit deal that strengthens the bonds between us and ensures our industries and nations prosper as we forge a new role for ourselves in the world.

"Today, I want to hear from people in Northern Ireland about what our exit from the EU means to them. As there is no Executive in place in Northern Ireland, it is even more important that the views of people and businesses here continue to be heard."

During the visit, Mrs May also committed to protecting the Good Friday Agreement.

On the subject of the border, she stressed: "The border is used daily for travel and trade, but it also forms a hugely important part of British and Irish identities, rooted in generations of family history – and this is something that needs to be protected."

DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds welcomed Theresa May's visit to Bangor, suggesting it was a sure sign that Northern Ireland "will not be left behind" after Brexit.

However, Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald warned such a visit was "absolutely pointless unless she brings with her a set of proposals which comprehensively address core Irish issues in a realistic way".

March 29th 2019 is the formal 'Brexit date', which was set for exactly two years after the British government invoked Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union and began the formal exit process.