Britain and the rest of the United Kingdom are supposed to exit the European Union in 2019, but the current round of Brexit talks is getting hung up on a geographic snag: how to create a border between Ireland and the UK. The Times of London reports that Ireland wants the post-Brexit border to be the Irish Sea, which separates the land mass of Britain, Wales, and Scotland from the land mass of Ireland. Simple enough. The problem is that there's one more component of the UK, that being Northern Ireland, which, for Brexit purposes, is located inconveniently within Ireland's land mass. As Sky News points out, once Brexit takes effect, this will be the only land border between the UK and the rest of Europe. (See this map.)
British Prime Minister Theresa May's idea is to create a high-tech "soft border" between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, using video surveillance and the like. But Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar doesn't think it's workable and might inflame old tensions between Northern Ireland and his republic. He instead wants the border to be drawn at the sea, with customs checks moved to ports, per the Telegraph. An official from Northern Ireland calls that "absurd" because it would put a border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK. Ireland's foreign minister similarly dug in: "What we do not want to pretend is that we can solve the problems of the border ... through technical solutions like cameras and pre-registration and so on," says Simon Coveney. "That is not going to work.” As of now, no solution is in sight.