Northern Ireland

Brexit: Panel to advise on Irish border solutions

A lorry passing road signs near the Irish border Image copyright PA
Image caption The British government and the EU have agreed there should be no hardening of the Irish border after Brexit

A Brexit initiative chaired by two Conservative MPs has named a panel of 20 experts to advise them on technical solutions for the Irish border.

Greg Hands and Nicky Morgan chair an "Alternative Arrangements Commission".

Some members of the panel, such as Dutch customs expert Hans Maessen, have previously advised pro-Brexit groups.

The only member with a significant Irish connection is Graham Gudgin, a former adviser to Brexit supporter Lord Trimble.

The British government and the EU have agreed there should be no hardening of the Irish border after Brexit.

However, that will be difficult if the UK sticks to its red lines of leaving both the Customs Union and the Single Market.

For countries outside those arrangements, the EU normally imposes a range of border checks to enforce customs and product standards.

Image caption The only member of the panel with a significant Irish connection is Graham Gudgin

Some Brexit supporters believe they can square the circle of an open border and a loose relationship with the EU by using technology and other techniques to manage the border.

EU officials and the Irish government are deeply sceptical about whether that will be possible.

Mr Hands and Mrs Morgan say they want to help develop "credible alternative arrangements for the Irish border, which can be delivered in a timely fashion, and without the presence of physical infrastructure at the frontier".

Others on their panel include Lars Karlsson, a Swedish customs expert who wrote a report in 2017 called Smart Borders 2.0, which laid out a plan for a "low friction" border.

Also on board is Shanker Singham, a trade lawyer who is an influential adviser to Brexit supporting MPs.

Several others on the panel are associated with Mr Singham.

For example Peter Allgeier, former US ambassador to the World Trade Organisation, co-signed a letter to the Financial Times with Mr Singham earlier this year.

The panel also features Frank Dunsmuir from technology company Fujitsu.

Earlier this year, Fujitsu proposed a concept for the Irish border called Drive Through Border which focused on a GPS tracking and a "geo fence".

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