November 19, 2018 / 11:19 AM / a month ago

WTO rules clear on border checks in no deal Brexit: UK Northern Ireland minister

A logo is pictured outside the World Trade Organization (WTO) headquarters next to a red traffic light in Geneva, Switzerland, October 2, 2018. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

BELFAST (Reuters) - World Trade Organization (WTO) rules are clear that checks would be required between EU-member Ireland and the British province of Northern Ireland if Britain crashed out of the bloc without an exit deal, the minister for the region said on Monday.

“The fact is that the WTO is very clear that if there are two different customs territories, checks have to be able to be carried out on a contemporaneous basis on consignments passing between the two territories,” Karen Bradley told reporters.

“How this is done would be something we could negotiate. We will do, as the UK government, everything we can do to avoid there being a hard border on the island of Ireland. We do not want to see physical infrastructure but WTO rules are clear.”

Ireland’s prime minister on Friday said for the first time his government would find it very difficult to avoid imposing a hard border on Northern Ireland in a so-called no deal Brexit.

Reporting by Amanda Ferguson, writing by Padraic Halpin; editing by Michael Holden

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