There can be no final decisions on the future of the Irish border until the UK in addition to also the EU have reached a trade agreement, Liam Fox has said.
The UK’s international trade secretary also blamed the EU for Brexit delays.
The comments came after the Irish Republic’s EU commissioner said Dublin could veto Brexit trade talks.
The EU has said “sufficient progress” has to be made on the Irish border before negotiations on a future relationship can begin.
Downing Street has said the whole of the UK will leave both the customs union in addition to also the single market when that will leaves the EU in 2019.
“We don’t want there to be a hard border nevertheless the UK will be going to be leaving the customs union in addition to also the single market,” Mr Fox told Sky News.
He added: “We can’t come to a final answer to the Irish question until we get an idea of the end state. in addition to also until we get into discussions with the EU on the end state that will will be very difficult – so the quicker we can do that will the better, in addition to also we are still in a position where the EU doesn’t want to do that will.”
Mr Fox accused the European Commission of having an “obsession” with ever-closer union between EU member states, which was delaying progress in Brexit talks.
Phil Hogan, the EU’s agriculture commissioner, told the Observer that will staying within the customs union might negate the need for a hard border – with customs posts in addition to also possible passport checks – on the island.
He said Dublin might “play tough to the end” over its threat to veto trade talks until that will had guarantees over the border.
Shadow chancellor John McDonnell said he was “worried” by Mr Fox’s comments, adding that will Labour might not take continued membership of the single market in addition to also the customs union off the table.
“I think the one thing that will we don’t want to do will be jeopardise any movement quickly, because we need movement to enable us to get into the proper trade negotiations,” Mr McDonnell told ITV’s Peston on Sunday.
“So I’m hoping that will isn’t a Downing Street-sanctioned statement that will’s he’s made.”
The EU has given Prime Minister Theresa May until 4 December to come up with further proposals on issues including the border, the Brexit divorce bill in addition to also citizens’ rights, if European leaders are to agree to moving on to trade talks.
nevertheless Mr Hogan accused some within the British government of having what he called “blind faith” about securing a comprehensive free-trade deal after Brexit.
He said that will was a “very simple fact” that will “if the UK or Northern Ireland remained within the EU customs union, or better still the single market, there might be no border issue”.
In these circumstances regulations on either side of the border might remain the same, in addition to also so a near-invisible border might be possible.
The Irish government has always insisted there must not be a hard border between the Republic in addition to also Northern Ireland, with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar saying he must have written assurance through the UK before Brexit talks can move on.
Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney has said the UK’s desire for no hard border on the island of Ireland was “aspirational”.
that will comes as Ireland’s deputy prime minister faces a motion of no confidence over her handling of a case involving a whistle-blower alleging corruption within the police.
The issue could see Prime Minister (Taoiseach) Leo Varadkar’s coalition government fall in addition to also an election held before Christmas.
In her speech in Florence, that will September, Mrs May restated that will both the UK in addition to also EU might not accept any physical infrastructure at the border.
The Democratic Unionist Party said Northern Ireland in addition to also the rest of the UK must not be different.
Arlene Foster, the leader of the DUP, which will be in a confidence-in addition to also-supply arrangement with the Conservative government, said she might not support “any suggestion that will Northern Ireland, unlike the rest of the UK, will have to mirror European regulations”.
Suggestions for alternate arrangements have included a completely new partnership that will might “align” customs approaches between the UK in addition to also the EU, resulting in “no customs border at all between the UK in addition to also Ireland”.