Belfast Telegraph

Brexit issues are now a matter of urgency

Editor's Viewpoint

The more that time goes on, the more complicated Brexit becomes. The latest development is a "Doomsday" scenario if Britain crashes out of the European Union with no deal.

This would also adversely affect the EU, and critics have been quick to pour cold water on such projections.

One irony is that despite all the talk about the border, Northern Ireland still finds itself in a perplexing and difficult situation as the countdown continues with, as yet, no agreement on a hard or soft solution, with the Irish Republic also perplexed.

Significantly, the DUP leader Arlene Foster has repeated her threat to pull out of the agreement which keeps the Tories in power at Westminster if the British Government accepts a deal that treats Northern Ireland differently from the rest of the UK.

Clearly the DUP are playing hard ball, and it is unlikely that Mrs May will call their bluff on this, especially as the collapse of the 'supply and demand' deal could open the door to Jeremy Corbyn. This would be anathema to the DUP, as well as the Tories and many others.

Nevertheless there are increasing concerns about the Irish border. David Davis, the Brexit minister, has had his proposal for a "buffer zone" roundly criticised, with the DUP and Sinn Fein both opposed to it.

One result of the uncertainty is that the proposed closure of three police stations on the northern side of the border has been put on hold, in line with the Chief Constable's warnings last week.

There is the added complication that the DUP wants to remain in the UK, but is resisting pressures from some Westminster politicians to come into line with Britain on such issues as abortion, which is a devolved issue.

The apocalyptic scenario outlined by those who fear that the UK may crash out of Europe may seem far-fetched, but Northern Ireland is facing considerable challenges.

These include the possible adverse effects of a Brexit in the border regions, and the almost paralysing effect of the Stormont deadlock.

The fact remains that Brexit could have advantages for Northern Ireland, if we had the politicians smart enough to grasp the opportunities.

While the Doomsday scenario may be overstated, we need people with clear heads and vision to help us find a way through this most pressing of conundrums. Otherwise we might be in for a nasty shock.

Belfast Telegraph

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