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Devastating cliff-edge break wouldn’t end well for anyone – Ireland

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Desperate efforts are being made by Brussels and Dublin to prevent the UK crashing out of the EU without a deal.

If Britain leaves without a transitional arrangement or the safety net of remaining within the single market or customs union until a future relationship has materialised, it will have devastating political consequences for Ireland, as well as the economic impact.

The fact that a loud, considerable few in the UK are willing to sacrifice the economic security of its nearest neighbour and risk the ruination of a fragile peace in Northern Ireland is beyond astonishing.

It calls into question the true regard such politicians have for their beloved union and adds weight to the argument that Brexit really is about English nationalism.

Yet the economic and political prosperity of Ireland and the UK is under serious threat unless a workable, more linguistically palatable backstop plan can be agreed by all sides and which can pass in the UK parliament.

As Tánaiste Simon Coveney points out today, Sinn Féin absenting itself from the House of Commons on this issue is not helpful.

The task ahead will undoubtedly come up against opposition from the DUP who on this matter insists Northern Ireland be regarded as British as Bristol or Bath. But on other days, it shouts equally loudly about ensuring independent autonomy over tax, abortion and other matters that suit its agenda.

There are also Brexit extremists who favour a cliff-edge break because any sort of backstop or future deal will probably involve keeping EU rules and standards on goods, thereby diminishing their dream that Britain be free to trade dairy with the Philippines, or import tonnes of chlorinated chicken from the US.

Mr Coveney says Ireland and the EU are striving for “no physical infrastructure” and “never going back to the dark and divisive days of decades past”.

Let’s hope Britain gets on board.

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