October 2, 2018 / 3:52 PM / 3 months ago

UK Brexit minister Raab likes concept of technological solution to Northern Ireland border

Britain's Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union Dominic Raab delivers his keynote address to the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham, Britain, October 1, 2018. REUTERS/Toby Melville

BIRMINGHAM, England (Reuters) - Britain’s Brexit minister Dominic Raab said Northern Ireland was a substantive issue in negotiations with the EU, but it had been overblown for political purposes, and he liked the concept of a technological solution to the border with the Republic of Ireland.

Any specific regulatory solutions for Northern Ireland would need to be respectful of existing devolution settlement and would have to carry the consent of the community in the province, Raab said at an event at the Conservative Party annual conference on Tuesday.

“(EU negotiator) Michel Barnier talked about using a technological solution to try and resolve some of these issues ... let me be gracious about it and say we like the concept and where it applies it can be part of the negotiations,” Raab said.

Raab added that Barnier was right to say the issue of Northern Ireland needed to be de-dramatised.

“That involves partly technological solutions and partly I suspect ultimately an equitable sharing of some of the political discomfort of how you make sure there is no visual, tangible presence at the borders but you still have whether it is regulatory checks or customs checks ... or consistency from the EU.”

Reporting by Kylie MacLellan and William James; editing by Paul Sandle

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