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'Absolutely Devastating': Lawmaker Slams Hard Border Brexit Plans for Ireland

'Absolutely Devastating': Lawmaker Slams Hard Border Brexit Plans for Ireland


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LONDON (Sputnik) – Ongoing disagreements over post-Brexit trade between London and Dublin may spell disaster for areas dependent on trade across the Northern Irish border, namely rural ones, UK lawmaker Owen Paterson, who served as state secretary for Northern Ireland in 2010-2012, said on Tuesday.

“In the general scheme of things with the United Kingdom and the Irish republic, [cross border trade is] really quite small… But it’s incredibly important for the areas where it happens… So it would be absolutely devastating for rural Ireland if, through stupidity, there is the putting up of any barriers to trade. So I’m highly alarmed at all the political disagreements on this and the lack of good will,” Paterson said.

The lawmaker indicated that the were no, what he called, practical problems with cross-border exchanges between Ireland and the United Kingdom, arguing that the issue was purely political in its nature.

“I have contacts in Northern Ireland now who tell me on the ground that they do not see a problem with the border… I do not think any businessman or politician has ever told me that the border presents a problem to trade… I do not see practical problems, I do see serious political problems that are beginning to sour things in a way that I find alarming and need to be sorted fast,” Paterson stressed.

Earlier on Tuesday, Peterson delivered his speech to the attendees of a conference titled “Brexit and the Island of Ireland,” organized by a think tank called the UK in a Changing Europe.

The border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland remains an obstacle on the agenda of the Brexit talks, as London’s pullout might create difficulties for the free movement of goods and workers between Ireland and the Northern Irish counties of the United Kingdom, and return a “hard” border between them in potential violation of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.

The Good Friday Agreement was concluded in 1998 between the UK and Irish governments, and political parties in Northern Ireland, which all agreed to end decades of sectarian conflict that resulted in the deaths of more than 3,500 people. The agreement states that no physical border should exist between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

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