Nick Clegg has written an article in the Irish Times accusing the British government of not taking the impact of Brexit on Ireland seriously enough. David Davis didn’t even mention maintaining the “soft border” between Northern Ireland and the Republic:
Instead, the government made a fleeting reference to the fact they will aim to “minimise frictions and administrative burdens”. This suggests that in one shape or form there will be an unwelcome return to checks at the Border.
There is a pattern here – the government doesn’t appear to be taking seriously the negative impact Brexit will have on the people of Ireland, just as it dismisses other widespread concerns about Brexit.
What would a hard border mean?
A “hard Border” if we leave the customs union will mean new tariffs and paperwork that will slow down trade, adding costs to consumers and businesses. Vague reassurances from Whitehall about the ability of “technology” to seamlessly check goods and services at Britain’s new land border with the European Union have not so far been reassuring.
One significant impact will be on cross-Border agri-food businesses. All the wheat that is grown in the Republic, for example, is sent to the North for milling, then re-imported south of the Border.
Brexit also threatens the peace process, especially if the Government yanks us out of the European Court of Human Rights:
One of the most important underlying issues in this whole journey is how we protect the peace process in the North. Hardening the soft Border could create troubling effects politically, economically and socially.
As with many issues, the serious implications for the peace process were not given appropriate consideration during the EU referendum campaign. It is puzzling that the then Northern Ireland secretary Theresa Villiers, one of the key figures in the Leave camp, allowed this issue to be left largely unaddressed.
And a reminder of how he held the Tories back in coalition days:
The ECHR is a vital building block of the agreement – one of the many reason why I blocked Conservative attempts to undermine the ECHR when with them in the coalition government.
You can read the whole article here.
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