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US vice president to visit Ireland for high-level talks amid Brexit tensions


US vice president to visit Ireland for high-level talks amid Brexit tensions

irish backstop pence
Photo: Paul Faith/AFP/Getty

US Vice President Mike Pence will discuss Brexit today with Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.

Questions over the Irish backstop, an artificial customs border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, have complicated Brexit negotiations and caused friction between Ireland and the UK.

The Trump administration has backed Boris Johnson’s demand that there be no backstop. Members of the US Congress, however, have accused Trump and Johnson’s position of violating the 1998 Good Friday agreement, a crucial part of the Northern Ireland peace process.

Earlier this month, the EU and the UK agreed that there would be no new infrastructure or physical checks at the border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. Regardless, Mr Johnson has equated any backstop to a violation of Britain’s national sovereignty.

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In the case of a no-deal Brexit, Ireland and the EU would be forced to set up a customs infrastructure, which presents the problem of smuggling. Furthermore, Ireland will either have to reinstate the border, which could lead to a climate similar to that of the most violent period with Northern Ireland, or will have to face the consequences of being kicked out of the European single market.

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