Theresa May to make two-day Brexit visit to NI

Theresa MayImage source, Reuters
Image caption,
Theresa May will discuss the Stormont impasse and Brexit during her visit

The prime minister is to arrive in Northern Ireland on Thursday for a two-day visit about Brexit, Downing Street has confirmed.

Theresa May will visit a border area and meet businesses to hear their views.

On Friday, she will give a speech in Belfast about the government's Brexit White Paper and how it addresses the Irish border issue.

She will also meet the main Stormont party leaders to discuss the deadlock.

Last month, Mrs May told MPs she would be visiting Northern Ireland in July to discuss Brexit and the continuing impasse at Stormont.

Northern Ireland has been without a devolved government since January 2017, when power-sharing between the DUP and Sinn Féin collapsed.

'Seamless journeys'

The government's White Paper on Brexit has promised to maintain a frictionless border in Ireland.

The sticking point in the EU-UK negotiations, so far, has been around the proposed customs backstop - an arrangement that will apply to the Irish border after Brexit, if a wider deal or technological solution cannot keep it as frictionless as it is now.

During her visit this week, the prime minister is also due to speak to young people in Belfast about Northern Ireland's future.

Mrs May said she looked forward to hearing from cross-border businesses about Brexit.

"I fully recognise how their livelihoods, families and friends rely on the ability to move freely across the border to trade, live and work on a daily basis," she said.

"That's why we have ruled out any kind of hard border. Daily journeys will continue to be seamless and there will be no checks or infrastructure at the border to get in the way of this."

Theresa May last visited Northern Ireland in March, during a whistle-stop tour to all four nations of the UK.