N. Ireland Politics

David Davis tells businesses hard border to be avoided

David Davis Image copyright EPA
Image caption David Davis is meeting cross-border companies to discuss customs plans

Brexit Secretary David Davis assured businesses that the government wants no hard Irish border "whatsoever", a businessman who met him has said.

Mr Davis visited Northern Ireland as part of the government's work on future customs arrangements with the EU after Brexit.

He made the trip alongside Business Secretary Greg Clark.

On Sunday, both men joined Secretary of State Karen Bradley in meetings with cross-border companies.

Gavin Killeen, managing director of Nuprint Technologies, was one of the business owners who met with the government delegation.

"He was very clear at the start that they wish to have no to have no hard border whatsoever, they wish there to be no infrastructure in place at all, there would be no effect on the movement of goods or people across that border," Mr Killeen said.

Image caption Gavin Killeen said Mr Davis listened to businesses' concerns

"There would be no impact on businesses from a bureaucracy point of view at all and they wanted to have zero tariffs.

"They didn't go into the detail of how that was going to be achieved, but that's what they set out, where they want to be and that's their objective of where they want to get to.

"They didn't discuss with us how they were going to do that - they wanted to hear from us all of the concerns and the issues that we have."

Mr Davis previously faced criticism from Sinn Féin after he made an unannounced visit to the border region in County Armagh in April.

During that visit Mr Davis did not follow the protocol of telling the local MP that he would be in the constituency, and he later apologised.

Image copyright David Davis/Twitter
Image caption Mr Davis visited an autism centre in Middletown, County Armagh during his visit in April

'Maximum facilitation'

Earlier this month, Theresa May divided her top team of ministers into two working groups to hammer out their differences on Brexit.

One group is considering a "customs partnership" whereby the UK would collect tariffs on behalf of the EU - but without the need for new border checks.

Meanwhile, Mr Davis' group is looking at "maximum facilitation" - a solution based on using technology to minimise the need for customs checks after Brexit

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