The British Prime Minister Theresa May has again insisted that there can be no new regulatory barriers between Northern Ireland and Britain after Brexit.
Mrs May made a statement at Downing Street this afternoon after her ‘Chequers’ plan for Brexit faced strong criticism from EU leaders during a summit in Austria yesterday.
She claimed the UK has shown The EU "respect" throughout the negotiations and said it is now time to "hear from the EU" on how to move forward the negotiations.
Her call comes despite the fact that the EU has already come forward with detailed Brexit plans, which the UK has rejected.
In her speech, Mrs May said keeping the UK in the Customs Unions would not respect the integrity of the Brexit referendum - while asking the North to observe different regulations from Britain would threaten the integrity of the UK.
"It is something I will never agree to," she said. "Indeed, in my view it is something no British Prime Minister could ever agree to."
"If the EU believe I will; they are making a fundamental mistake.
"Anything which fails to respect the referendum or which effectively divides our country in two would be a bad deal - and I have always said no deal is better than a bad deal."
The UK Prime Minster Theresa May makes her Brexit statement in Downing Street, 21-09-2018. Image: Jack Taylor/PA Wire/PA Images
She did however leave the door open to such an arrangement in the future - provided the political impasse at Stormont can be broken and devolved Government restored.
She also took aim at EU leaders over their rejection of the Chequers plan - and claimed that it was now up to them to come forward with solutions.
"Throughout this process, I have treated the EU with nothing but respect," she said. "The UK expects the same."
"So we now need to hear from the EU what the real issues are and what the alternative is so we can discuss them.
"Until we do we cannot make progress. In the mean time we must and will continue to prepare ourselves for no deal."