Brexit ‘a matter of life and death’

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A British Labour MP has broken the silence of the mainstream media over the consequences of Brexit in terms of the remilitarisation of the border through Ireland.

Stephen Pound, a London-based MP and a spokesperson on the north of Ireland in Labour’s Shadow Cabinet, spoke to Channel 4 at his party’s annual conference. He said what almost all politicians and journalists have refused to do, by spelling out the likely consequences of a return of border checks and controls.

Describing the issue as “life and death to the people of Ireland”, the shadow minister questioned the idea cameras could solve the problems of a 302-mile Border with 282 separate crossing points.

“That will become a target. If you have a target, you have to defend the target. If you have a defender, you have to have someone to actually protect the defender,” he said.

“Before you know where you are, you’re got uniformed UK BI [Border Force] or customs officers on the border. If you do that then, I’m not being hysterical about this, but the peace process is finished.”

In that respect, he said, it was pointless to talk about a frictionless border.

“I’m not entirely convinced that our negotiating team are completely aware of just how absolutely visceral, how utterly serious and how incredibly important this is,” he said.

Meanwhile, there have been warnings that the Six Counties could face blackouts and food shortages as a result of Britain leaving the EU without suitable arrangements on trade and customs. British government documents show that in the event of a no-deal Brexit, diesel generators may be needed to keep power supplies running.

Shortages and price rises in food products such as orange juice, olive oil, sausages and butter are also expected. With fears of looting and food riots, the British government has appointed a minister to manage food supply for the first time since the Second World War. Access to vital drugs, including insulin for diabetics, have also been singled out as a key concern. Public transport across the border is also in jeopardy.

Sinn Fein spokesperson Mairtin O Muilleoir said the North was being treated as “collateral damage” by the Tories and the DUP.

“It again reinforces the absolute necessity of ensuring the referendum vote in the North is respected by securing special status for us to remain,” he said.

“The Irish Government and the EU27 must also continue to stand firm in the Brexit negotiations and defend the interests of all Irish citizens, North and South.”

Sinn Fein’s Mary Lou McDonald has accused the DUP of a “reckless disregard” for the north’s economy and political agreements.

“The days of unionist veto are gone and will not be replaced by a Tory veto,” she said. “Both the Tory party and the DUP should respect the vote of the majority in the north to remain within the European Union with all that entails. The DUP cannot veto the vote of the people in the north to remain.”

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