UK to 'cut off North' with an all-island border - unionists
Published 18/10/2016 | 02:30
The UK will put an immigration border around Britain following Brexit, cutting off Northern Ireland, the leader of the Ulster Unionist party has predicted.
Mike Nesbitt, whose party opposed Brexit, said this would particularly disadvantage those from Northern Ireland travelling to other parts of the UK.
He also said he believed an electronic customs border between the North and the Republic "won't cut it", as smugglers would be looking at ways to beat it.
It came as politicians in the Northern Ireland Assembly voted against a motion calling for the North to be granted special status within the EU during the Brexit talks. The motion by the SDLP was beaten by just one vote.
Mr Nesbitt was addressing a hearing in Belfast of a UK House of Lords inquiry into the impact of Brexit on Irish/UK relations.
"In terms of the free movement of people, I think the border will inevitably be at the ports and the airports of Great Britain, from Cairnryan down to Heathrow, which will disadvantage everybody travelling either way, but particularly the citizens of Northern Ireland making their way to the rest of the United Kingdom," the UUP leader said.
"In terms of the movement of goods, electronic won't cut it."
He insisted that people on both sides of the Border were already trying to work out how to game the system in whatever regime that emerges.
At the same hearing, Northern Ireland's former justice minister David Ford signalled Brexit could make it tougher for the UK to extradite criminals from the Republic, and vice-versa, as no alternative is in place here to the European Arrest Warrant.
Meanwhile, the UK cabinet is reportedly weighing up the possibility of continuing to pay billions into the EU budget to ensure continued "passporting" rights for city of London firms looking to access the EU market. If granted, it could dash attempts to attract financial services from London to Dublin as a result of Brexit.
Niamh Meenan, global head of asset management at Grant Thornton, told the Irish Independent that while it might dampen the need for city firms to move to alternative locations, Ireland could still win investment.
She said: "There will always be people who say even without Brexit, or a hard Brexit, perhaps the opportunity of sitting something in Ireland is worthwhile, if we can get a realistic regulatory approach."