Brokenshire heads to Brussels for Brexit talks

James Brokenshire will be stressing the need for a 'frictionless' border between Northern Ireland and the Republic
James Brokenshire will be stressing the need for a 'frictionless' border between Northern Ireland and the Republic

The Northern Ireland secretary is travelling to Brussels today for Brexit meetings with leading EU figures.

James Brokenshire will explain the country’s unique economic and political context.

He has prioritised protecting the Common Travel Area between Britain and Ireland and achieving as “frictionless” a border as possible between Northern Ireland and the Republic.

“We want to get the best possible deal for the UK and the best possible deal for Northern Ireland within the UK recognising Northern Ireland’s particular circumstances.

“That is the prime reason for my visit – to ensure Northern Ireland’s interests are protected and advanced.”

He said he was acutely aware that the ability to move and trade freely across the border was an essential part of daily life for people and businesses on both sides.

The secretary of state will meet Sir Tim Barrow, the UK’s permanent representative to the EU, before meeting permanent representatives of EU countries.

He will set out the importance of ensuring that Northern Ireland’s unique circumstances are factored into any negotiations, with the hope that a new strategic partnership with the EU, including a bold and ambitious Free Trade Agreement, can be established.

He will also hold talks with Danuta Hubner MEP, chair of the European Parliament’s Constitutional Affairs Committee, and senior EU Commission officials.

The secretary of state will also meet MEPs, including those from Northern Ireland.