Will Boris Johnson save the Brexit deal

This will require two layers of infrastructure, either side of the border, with shipments tracked in real-time via cameras, GPS and other technology.

However, in a major shift, the UK side is no longer suggesting that the details of these schemes will be worked out during the transition period which runs to the end of 2021, with the backstop to kick in if satisfactory arrangements cannot be agreed upon.

Instead, the UK is demanding that the EU and the Irish government agree immediately, and in advance, in the Withdrawal Agreement to customs checks and controls in Ireland, with operational details to be hammered out during the transition period.

To further facilitate this, the UK will also demand, within the next 10 days, that the EU grants Northern Ireland blanket exemptions from the EU’s Union Customs Code (UCC), the requirements of which will be supplanted by so-called alternative arrangements.

A source familiar with the contents of the proposals said that “in effect, the British are demanding that the EU puts in legal text an agreement not to have any checks at the border in any circumstances”. 

The source added: “It is worth noting that since 2017 the European Commission has not agreed a single UCC derogation [exemption] for the UK in a deal scenario, or Ireland in the event of a ‘no deal’.”