The UK government has conceded that Northern Ireland will remain subject to EU single market rules and regulations after Brexit according to an RTÉ leak.
The government submitted the proposal to the Irish government after months of wrangling over the prospect of a hard Irish border.
This reality has led to tensions in both the UK and Ireland, with officials fearing the sectarian consequences of a visible border between the two nations.
Sources said there would be “no divergence” between Northern Ireland and the single market suggesting that regulations passed in the UK post-Brexit would not apply to Northern Ireland. This would allow the Irish border to remain friction free for goods and people.
Single market regulations include rules on packaging, product safety, and food standards.
Once the UK is no longer part of the European Union the border would most likely have basic customs and papers checks in line with the UK being a third country.
The Good Friday Agreement further complicates the matter – a text that places obligations on both governments to ensure cross-border cooperation. But the leak text guarantees protection of the GFA.
The largest party in Northern Ireland, the DUP, have staunchly refused any legal separation between themselves and the mainland.
Meanwhile the Irish government has threatened to veto any UK-EU deal if the UK cannot ensure that a hard border will not become a reality.
But the UK must face the reality of the Irish border post-Brexit and this is the latest in a string of backtracks by Theresa May’s government.
The concession comes after the EU set a deadline for resolving the Irish border, citizens rights, and the Brexit bill.
However, the move does signal that negotiations are moving forward, and increases the likelihood of a post-Brexit trade deal, something the UK is keen to discuss.