Theresa May to visit Northern Ireland tomorrow as concerns grow over Brexit

The British Prime Minster aims to reassure business that there will be no return to a hard border

Theresa May to visit Northern Ireland tomorrow as concerns grow over Brexit

Theresa May. Picture by: Victoria Jones/PA Wire/PA Images

Updated 13:30

The British Prime Minister will attempt to calm fears over the Irish border when she begins a two-day trip to the North tomorrow.

Downing Street said Theresa May will insist there will be no return to a hard border in Ireland.

She will also reaffirm her commitment to the union - and reject calls for a border in the Irish sea.

The trip will see Mrs May meeting with business leaders and learning what it means to work, live and trade across the border.

In a statement, Theresa May said: "I look forward to hearing views from businesses on the border in Northern Ireland on our departure from the European Union."

Contingency

Meanwhile, the government is due to unveil contingency plans for Brexit this afternoon.

Ministers held a special cabinet meeting in Derrynane House in Co Kerry to discuss the UK's exit from the EU.

The Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said the meeting will focus on Ireland's preparedness for a 'no-deal' Brexit.

A number of areas including energy, trade and immigration are being discussed.

Planning

Speaking outside the meeting, the Tánaiste admitted negotiating with the British Government is frustrating - as it keeps changing its position.

He called for calm over the ongoing turmoil in Westminster and stressed that the Government will not be preparing for a hard border.

He observed: "What has already been agreed on the Irish border is that Britain has ruled out border infrastructure on the island of Ireland. We have insisted on that also. The EU side has also insisted on it."

He added: "While we haven't been talking a lot about contingency planning to date - for good reason actually, in the context of a negotiating strategy - there has been an enormous amount of work going on for the best part of a year now, across multiple Government department and agencies, to make sure we are prepared for whatever outcome emerges from Brexit."

Brexiteer demands

Mrs May narrowly avoided defeat on the UK Customs Bill on Monday by agreeing to a number of Brexiteer demands on its wording.

One of the amendments would make it illegal under UK law for Northern Ireland to form a separate customs territory to Britain.

The clause was passed without a vote.

Negotiations are continuing between the EU and UK, ahead of the October deadline for a deal to be reached before the UK's official exit in March 2019