Theresa May to deliver keynote Brexit speech on Friday

Theresa May to deliver keynote Brexit speech on Friday

Today, Prime Minister Theresa May will deliver a speech on the UK’s post-Brexit relationship with the EU. While the speech

The Conservative Party Conference 2016 – Day One

Photo: Carl Court/Getty

Today, Prime Minister Theresa May will deliver a speech on the UK’s post-Brexit relationship with the EU.

While the speech was originally intended to clarify how the UK will seek to trade with the EU post-Brexit, Mrs May will once again be forced to focus on the Irish border. The border issue between Ireland, which will remain in the bloc, and Northern Ireland, which will leave with the UK, resurfaced on Wednesday after Brussels proposed that Northern Ireland remain within the EU’s customs union and single market to avoid creating a hard border between the countries.

The dispute leaves Mrs May in a tricky position. On one hand, the PM cannot agree to the EU’s proposal, as it is strongly opposed by Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party, which is crucial to May’s minority government. On the other hand, creating a hard border between the two Irish countries would undermine the already fragile Good Friday Agreement.

Unfortunately for Mrs May, the most unpalatable compromise for the pro-Brexit power-brokers of her own party is her best one: keeping the UK in the customs union.

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