UK to formulate Irish border proposals ‘in a few days’: Hunt

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Britain’s Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt leaves Downing Street in London, Britain, January 15, 2019. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain will take a few days to formulate some proposals to put to the European Union in an attempt to resolve the issue of Irish border arrangements after Brexit, foreign minister Jeremy Hunt told BBC radio on Thursday.

British lawmakers on Tuesday instructed Prime Minister Theresa May to reopen a Brexit treaty with the EU to replace a controversial Irish border arrangement – the backstop – but promptly received a flat rejection from Brussels.

“We will put those proposals together. It is going to take a few days to do that,” Hunt said.

“I happen to believe there is potential along all the different routes that have been discussed. But we need to put those together, make sure they meet the concerns the EU has expressed and then I think… we will have a proper discussion,” he said.

Hunt said it was too early to say if an extension to the Brexit process would be required. Britain is due to leave on March 29.

“I think it is true that if we ended up approving a deal in the days before March 29 then we might need some extra time to pass critical legislation,” said Hunt.

“But if we are able to make progress sooner then that might not be necessary.”

Hunt said Olly Robbins would retain his central role in Britain’s team negotiating with the EU.

However, he said Attorney General Geoffrey Cox and cabinet office minister David Lidington would join Brexit minister Stephen Barclay in the team, which would also “tap-in to” the expertise of trade negotiator Crawford Falconer.

Reporting by James Davey; editing by Guy Faulconbridge

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