Saturday 18 August 2018

Confidence in May takes a nosedive as fears over Border policing increase

British Prime Minister Theresa May leaves after a church service near to her Maidenhead constituency on Sunday. Photo: PA
British Prime Minister Theresa May leaves after a church service near to her Maidenhead constituency on Sunday. Photo: PA

Andrew MacAskill

Confidence in British Prime Minister Theresa May's handling of Brexit is plummeting, as concerns about the policing of the Border mount.

A new poll, carried out by the ORB International pollster, shows confidence in the Tory leader has dropped considerably, with 60pc of UK voters not confident Mrs May will get the right deal.

The findings come as concerns emerged both here and in the UK about policing in the event of a hard Brexit or a no-deal exit.

Gardaí in Co Louth have said a portacabin which houses a station less than 2km from the Border "will not last more than a week," in the event of a hard Brexit, according to the Garda Representative Association (GRA) rep for the area, Derek O'Donoghue. The station is rotting away, according to members stationed there, and it is feared it will not be able to support increased resources in the event of a hard Brexit when up to 100 additional gardaí could be needed in the region.

Superintendent Gerry Curley said irrespective of whether there is a hard Brexit, "the Drumad area is probably one of the most significant areas along the whole Border" and called for facilities there to be addressed.

He also said there were concerns about the effect of a hard Brexit on Border policing and the issue of dissident Republicans.

Exploit

"There is no doubt a hard Brexit could cause an upsurge in dissident activity because unfortunately those individuals seem to exploit situations like that."

Police chiefs in the UK have also raised a red flag over concerns about public safety in the event of the UK leaving the bloc without an agreement.

A leaked letter, reported by the 'Guardian' newspaper, raised concern over the loss of access to cross-border investigative powers overnight.

Increased speculation over the weekend that the UK will crash out, sparked by comments by high-profile Brexiteers, was downplayed by Downing Street yesterday.

Trade minister Liam Fox said in an interview with a Sunday newspaper he believed that the prospect of the UK crashing out with no deal had risen to 60:40.

The comments helped push sterling down to an 11-month low. A spokesman for Mrs May said Mr Fox was right to highlight the risk of Britain crashing out. However the spokesman said: "We continue to believe that a deal is the most likely outcome because reaching a good deal is not only in the interests of the UK, it is in the interests of the EU and its 27 members",

Mr Fox had laid the blame at the door of the EU for the heightened chances of a crash out, due to its "intransigence".

However, the European Commission has defended its performance, saying it is working 24/7 on the negotiations.

A spokeswoman for the commission said negotiators are working "day and night, 24/7, for a deal".

"We are working constructively, day and night, to reach a deal with the UK and I think this is also reflected in the fact the next negotiation round is scheduled for the 16 and 17 of August," she said.

"An agenda will be published in due course and the chief negotiator is... based on the negotiating position agreed by the 27 member states and that's reflected in the European Commission guidelines.

"It will be at official level but it will be followed very soon at a political level because, as you know, we are working day and night, 24/7, for a deal."

Irish Independent

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