Northern Ireland secretary says proposals are realistic as Theresa May insists UK will work to maintain ‘special ties’ with Ireland

The UK government has dismissed claims that its plans for a new customs relationship with the EU are a “fantasy” as it restated its opposition to the reintroduction of checks at the border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic.

The Northern Ireland secretary, James Brokenshire, said the government’s plans to minimise customs checks with the EU after Brexit were realistic and that Guy Verhofstadt, the European parliament’s lead Brexit negotiator, was wrong to describe them as unworkable.

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