Brussels says it has 'not received any' workable Irish border proposals from UK

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By Alastair Jamieson
A Brexit protester outside the Conservative Party conference in Manchester, England
A Brexit protester outside the Conservative Party conference in Manchester, England   -   Copyright  REUTERS

The European Commission has declined to comment on leaked plans for customs clearance sites on either side of the Irish border after Brexit — but said it had yet to receive any proposals from Britain that would meet its criteria for a backstop.

The UK is reportedly weighing customs centres on both sides of the border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic, away from the frontier itself.

The idea, first reported by Irish broadcaster RTE, was rejected by the Irish government early Tuesday as a “non-starter.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the idea was submitted previously and that detailed plans for Brexit would be presented to the European Union before Thursday.

At the daily media briefing in Brussels on Tuesday, a spokeswoman said the European Commission “cannot confirm” the reported plans.

“We have no comment on these documents,” she said. “We have not received any proposals from the United Kingdom that meet all the objectives of the backstop.

“It is the UK’s responsibility to come forward with workable and legally operational solutions that meet all the objectives of the backstop.”

The spokeswoman also rejected suggestions the Irish border plan had been leaked from documents previously submitted by the UK to Brussels.

“We have respected the UKs wish not to share these documents further,” she said.

She also responded to a question about Johnson’s reported comment that Britain would be a “truculent and mutinous partner” if it was still inside the European Union after October 31.

“We will continue to engage in a respectful and constructive manner,” she said. “We have highlighted in the past that we expect from every leader to deploy the same respectful language.”