Belfast Telegraph

Brexit 'will not change commitment to Belfast Agreement'

Brexit will not affect the Government's commitment to the Belfast Agreement on devolved power for Northern Ireland, peers have been told.

Frontbench spokesman Viscount Younger of Leckie said: "The future of the Belfast Agreement is not and never has been in question.

"The UK's exit from the EU does not change the commitment of the UK Government and the people of Northern Ireland to the Belfast Agreement ... and to the institutions they establish."

At question time, he said the Government would make a success of Brexit and continue to build a "brighter more secure future for Northern Ireland".

But Labour former Northern Ireland secretary Lord Hain warned: "This is the first time in history that Northern Ireland and the Republic will be on the opposite sides of a European border they joined together in 1973.

"Although the common travel area has been in existence since the early 1920s there were tough security controls and border checks during the Troubles.

"Isn't it unthinkable that in an era of mass refugee migration and jihadi terrorism that the only land border between the UK and the EU would be completely open?"

Lord Younger said this issue was at the top of the agenda, insisting: "We want to have a soft border, not a hard border. All the parties are very aware of the security issues and people passing to and fro."

In the face of further cross-party concerns about the future of the border, he said there was nothing in the outcome of the EU referendum which undermined the Government's "rock solid commitment" to the Belfast Agreement.

Ministers recognised the the real benefits of the common travel area and the open border for people and businesses, which had "served us well".


From Belfast Telegraph