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Boris Johnson Vows UK Will Never Put Physical Checks or Infrastructure on Irish Border

© REUTERS / SIMON DAWSONBoris Johnson, a leadership candidate for Britain's Conservative Party, arrives at offices in central in London, Britain, July 19, 2019
Boris Johnson, a leadership candidate for Britain's Conservative Party, arrives at offices in central in London, Britain, July 19, 2019 - Sputnik International
The talks were the first since Mr Johnson was sworn in as Britain's prime minister on 24 July, following former PM Theresa May's departure from office.

Newly appointed UK prime minster Boris Johnson has reportedly spoken with Irish prime minister Leo Varadkar by telephone, RTE reported on Tuesday.

During the conversation, Mr Johnson told PM Varadkar that the UK government would approach any negotiations with 'determination and energy and in a spirit of friendship'.

The UK prime minister said during the talks that the UK would never put physical checks or infrastructure on the Irish border, as well as stressed that the UK's clear preference was to leave the European Union with a deal, but that any deal struck between London and Brussels must "abolish the backstop".

The British PM also said that the UK would leave the EU by 31 October "no matter what", but Mr Varadkar responded by stating that the EU was "united" in its view that the withdrawal agreement "could not be reopened".

The Irish PM also told Mr Johnson that alternative arrangements could replace the backstop in the future, but satisfactory options "had yet to be identified" thus far, adding that Northern Ireland's Good Friday Agreement required the sovereign government to "exercise power with rigorous impartiality".

Mr Johnson's comments echo similar statements made to Conservative members in Belfast in early July, after he said that "under no circumstances" would there be a hard border on the Irish island, instead resolving the issue via a free trade deal after 31 October and equating the backstop to "moral blackmail" of the UK.

The Irish border has always remained a contentious issue between London and Brussels, as EU officials insist that physical border infrastructure would be needed to regulate customs and safeguard the Republic of Ireland, which is an EU member state, following the UK's departure under a hard Brexit. But both London and Northern Ireland have vowed to scupper a buildup of infrastructure at all costs.

The British Prime Minister is currently on a tour of Scotland, Ireland, Wales, and England to campaign for the UK government's no-deal preparations should Brussels and London fail to negotiate on a deal by the 31 October deadline. Mr Johnson, who is aiming to mend ties between the four British countries, has called the backstop "anti-democratic" and has reportedly refused to meet EU leaders until the backstop had been removed, the Daily Mail wrote on Monday, as well as pledged to spend £300m to boost economic growth across the UK.

But responses to his proposals have been lukewarm, with Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon writing in an letter last week that she wanted her country to prepare an "alternative option" to Mr Johnson's alternative arrangements on the Irish backstop, namely a second vote on Scottish independence.

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