politics

Irish PM Thought ‘Max Fac' Was Make Up, Not U.K. Brexit Plan

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar quipped that he thought until recently that “max fac” was a cosmetic or deodorant, rather than Britain’s plan to solve the border impasse in Brexit talks.

The “maximum facilitation” or “max fac” proposal would try to minimize -- but not eliminate -- border checks on goods, through the smart use of technology and “trusted trader” schemes for cross-border business operators. The plan is in the ascendancy over a second plan for a close customs partnership with the bloc, Mujtaba Rahman, managing director at Eurasia, said in a note on Tuesday.

May and Varadkar in 2017

Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

While Varadkar said that while the customs partnership plan was not, in the form proposed last year, “workable,’’ it’s a better basis for going forward than the “max fac” option. In recent weeks, there’s been “little progress” in the Brexit process as the EU awaits new wording on the border backstop from the U.K., the Irish leader said.

At present, the only realistic plan on the table for keeping the border clear of checks after Brexit is the backstop, which would effectively keep Northern Ireland in the bloc’s customs union and parts of the single market if needed. That amounts to erecting a border between Northern Ireland and mainland Britain, which the U.K. considers unacceptable.

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