Belfast Telegraph

Jim Allister: 'Special status' push just a ruse aimed at the break-up of the UK

By Jim Allister

Sinn Fein's paranoia over Brexit is easily understood.

The once arch Eurosceptic Sinn Fein switched to Euro-fanatacism because it recognised the opportunity to piggy-back its all-Ireland agenda on the back of EU harmonisation.

The EU is about harmonising everything, everywhere within the EU, including on the island of Ireland.

Hence, the Sinn Fein conversion as it saw the opportunity to align its all-Ireland project.

Brexit calls a halt to that harmonisation and takes the United Kingdom in a different direction.

Hence the fury of Sinn Fein (if it had the wit to see it, it would realise it is by the Republic also leaving the EU that the drift apart can be tempered).

The demand for "special EU status" for Northern Ireland is a transparent effort to thwart the inevitable outworkings of Brexit. It is designed to keep us inside the Single Market and the Customs Union - the direct consequence of which would be to remove the border to the Irish Sea, the ultimate Sinn Fein objective, of course.

Thus, no unionist should be foolish enough to fall for the blandishments of "special status" - it is a trap for the destruction of the constitutional and territorial integrity of the United Kingdom.

There may indeed be a case for "special status" - not for Northern Ireland, but for the Republic. Under Brexit it is the Republic that is going to feel the draught, especially if the EU cuts off its nose to spite its face by insisting on tariffs.

Then, the Republic's trade - which is predominantly with the UK, especially for its all important agri-food business - will be devastated as its goods are priced out of the UK market (with Northern Ireland's agri-food industry standing to gain by filling the GB void).

So, a "special status" for the Republic of Ireland within the EU would make sense, allowing it - unlike the rest of the EU - to trade tariff-free with the UK.

At a stroke, the economic downturn for the Republic is avoided and the hard border issue is resolved.

This is what the Dublin government should be seeking.

As the EU negotiations unfold, Northern Ireland's interests lie in ensuring the advantages of leaving are not blunted by keeping even one toe inside the EU tent.

Our leaving must be no less emphatic and obvious than that of the rest of the kingdom.

We joined as one nation; we must leave as one nation.

If in due course the Republic wishes to follow us out that is a matter for its people, as our leaving was exclusively a matter for the people of the United Kingdom.

Belfast Telegraph

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