UK Brexit adviser Shanker Singham: ‘EU must compromise’ on Irish customs

UK Brexit adviser Shanker Singham: ‘EU must compromise’ on Irish customs
Copyright REUTERS/Hannah McKay
Copyright REUTERS/Hannah McKay
By Alasdair Sandford
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A trade expert influential with the UK government tells Euronews the EU must abandon its insistence on an all-island customs territory.

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A key British trade adviser cited as the “Brexiteers’ brain” has told Euronews the EU must compromise over its stance over customs on the island of Ireland if a Brexit deal is to be agreed.

Shanker Singham has close links to leading Eurosceptics and his work has been highly influential with Boris Johnson’s government.

He chairs the technical panel of the Alternative Arrangements Commission, whose report published in July outlined a detailed scheme to replace the Irish border backstop.

The plan submitted by the British government to the European Commission involves Northern Ireland leaving the EU’s customs union along with the rest of the UK. It would remain aligned to EU single market rules for goods – subject to regular approval by Belfast.

EU leaders have reacted with scepticism, fearing the necessary customs checks would bring a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic, threatening hard-earned peace.

Singham told Euronews Now presenter Oliver Whitfield-Miocic that the UK government and Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) had made significant concessions on regulatory alignment.

In turn, he said, “the EU will have to climb down” on its insistence that Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland stay in the same customs territory.

London and Brussels remain far apart, a fortnight before a European Council summit of EU government leaders and less than four weeks before the UK is due to leave the EU on October 31.

Watch the interview in the video player above.

Read more:

Why is Boris Johnson's latest Brexit plan a headache for the EU?

Tusk 'unconvinced' by Brexit plan: How Europe reacted to UK proposals

'Very little time': Read Johnson's letter to EU chief Juncker on latest Brexit plan

Brexit Guide: Where are we now?

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