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MPs to probe implications of Brexit for Northern Ireland peace process

Published 18/01/2016

David Cameron faces a crunch meeting with EU leaders in February over his demands for a new deal for the UK
David Cameron faces a crunch meeting with EU leaders in February over his demands for a new deal for the UK

MPs are to examine whether Brexit would have implications for the Northern Ireland peace process.

The potential impact for the land border with the Republic and the loss of EU funds for promoting peace, reconciliation and cross-border co-operation will be among other issues considered by the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee.

Opportunities following a split with Europe allowing the UK Government to increase spending in Northern Ireland and reduce taxes will also be examined. EU state aid rules currently restrict adopting some special measures for Northern Ireland.

Committee chairman Laurence Robertson said: "It is 40 years since the UK held a referendum on membership of the then European Economic Community. The forthcoming vote therefore represents a once-in-a-generation opportunity for people to express their opinion on this important issue.

"Our aim is not to make a recommendation on whether the people of Northern Ireland should vote to leave the EU or remain a member. Rather, we will look to inform public debate on the specific issues affecting Northern Ireland that should be considered."

The committee has invited written evidence on its inquiry with a view to holding public evidence sessions in February and March.

The Prime Minister has admitted he is "very suspicious of Brussels" as he said there was a "good case" for new measures to assert the power of Westminster over European Union legislation.

David Cameron, who faces a crunch meeting with EU leaders in February over his demands for a new deal for the UK, said he wanted a settlement that represented the "best of both worlds" - giving Britain the benefits of the single market without the euro or closer ties with Brussels.

A referendum on Brexit could be held later this year, commentators have suggested.

A former British government minister has said creating an EU border between Northern Ireland and the Republic would be a retrograde step.

Lord Alf Dubs said Brexit endangered the close relations between different parts of the island and argued strongly in favour of the UK remaining in the EU.

Freedom of movement restrictions, border controls and customs checking in Ireland were among concerns raised recently during a meeting of British and Irish parliamentarians.

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