Cabinet ministers issue new warning of Northern Ireland violence amid Brexit uncertainty
Cabinet ministers have ramped up warnings of violence in Northern Ireland if Britain fails to secure a Brexit deal, with one suggesting dissident republicans are already using uncertainty to boost recruitment.
Another warned that any new infrastructure required by the Canada-style trade deal promoted by some Brexiteers would create targets for those looking to heighten tension.
It came as chancellor Philip Hammond openly warned that Britain would have to enforce controls on the Irish border if the UK leaves the European Union without a deal.
Theresa May and her ministers have renewed a push at Tory conference to encourage MPs to weigh in behind her Chequerâs proposals for Brexit, but on Tuesday her leadership rival Boris Johnson will deliver a speech at a fringe event in Birmingham likely to trash her strategy and call for the Canada-style deal.
Avoiding a hard border in Ireland is one of the prime ministerâs red lines, with her lieutenants claiming calls for a looser trade relationship would require basic infrastructure on the frontier and risk the return of sectarianism.
One cabin et minister told The Independent: âThere is a delicate equilibrium in Northern Ireland that the Belfast agreement has held in place.
âSo for example, while people with republican sympathies may not have a huge amount of love for the EU, previously they could move across the border freely.
âNow they see a situation in which the British government might do things that threaten that. There are new risks that they can see and point to.
âThat uncertainty allows a rump of dissidents to create a narrative for their people. There are around 500 of them, but with that narrative 500 can become 1,000.â
The minister also highlighted that the EUâs requirement for a customs border in the Irish Sea might also aggravate those with loyalist instincts in Belfast.
Another cabinet minister said: âI havenât seen anything that suggests using technology as a solution in Northern Ireland can work.
âThe problem is as soon as you put anything â" anything â" on or near the border, then there will be someone who wants to cause trouble that could choose to put a bomb underneath it.
âThen you have to put a fence around it, then you have to send someone out in a uniform to guard it, then before you know it you are back where you were in the Troubles.
âItâs just some thing that is very difficult to see how it works and no one has said anything or is saying anything to counter that.â
Speaking at a fringe event at Mr Hammond suggested the government would be forced to implement border checks in the case of a no deal Brexit, potentially creating a new risk for to peace.
He said: âThe challenges around the Irish border are around the legal requirements we will have if we are not in a trade block within the European Union to operate the WTO compliant border, which does require checks at the border. Thatâs what the WTO rules require.â
Over the last weekend Mr Johnson urged his Conservative colleagues to âchuck Chequersâ and instead adopt his plans for a âsuper Canadaâ trade deal, which he argues would not lead to a hard Irish border, with checks carr ied out away from the crossing.
The former foreign secretary, who on Friday refused to rule out running for the Tory leadership, quit the cabinet this year in protest at Ms Mayâs Chequers plans for Brexit.
Source: Google News Ireland | Netizen 24 Ireland
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