May must realize border is her proble

Posted By: October 25, 2017

Irish News Editorial. Belfast. Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Theresa May has said there can be no deal on step-by-step arrangements for the UK to leave the EU until a final trade deal has been agreed.

She told the House of Commons on Monday that if there is no long-term UK-EU agreement within 18 months, the UK may well implement a “cliff-edge Brexit”, meaning that she will just walk away from Europe with no transition arrangements in place.

While this attitude has alarmed British business, the Labour Party and some of her own MPs, we on this island have more cause than most to be concerned.

Has she considered how the cross-border movement of goods and people here would be affected by such a


Mrs. May’s attitude appears to ignore the fact that following Brexit, the UK will have a land border with the EU.

She has offered no concrete proposals on how a post-Brexit border would work, apart from some fine sounding words on how it might operate in theory.

This is just the latest in a series of erratic and inconsistent announcements from the British prime minister in relation to Brexit.

She blows hot and cold on a deal with the EU, largely to keep her divided cabinet and party together. However, the future of the Irish economy, north, and south, is much too important to be at the mercy of Conservative Party infighting.

The EU has adopted a more balanced approach to post-Brexit Ireland. It argues that since the UK recreated the Irish border with its pro-Brexit vote, it is up to the UK to produce proposals to make it work.

This point was made strongly by French president Emmanuel Macron yesterday, following a meeting with the Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, in Paris.

Mr. Varadkar is lobbying hard to unify support across the EU for pressure on the UK to solve the Border problem.

He has been supported by Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, who said yesterday that the EU must keep its unity regardless of the direction of the talks.

It is hard to disagree with the EU’s united approach that the Border is the UK’s problem while recognizing that a workable solution will ultimately require EU agreement.

Mrs. May’s problem is that without a trade deal, she cannot explain how the border would work. If she is now threatening to walk away without a trade deal, then it would appear that she has given no serious thought to the Border.

To date, her leadership on Brexit has been somewhat confusing. She must realize that the border is her problem.

We will know she is taking the matter seriously when she abandons talk of a “cliff-edge” Brexit.