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Brexit: No deal would be 'devastating' for Northern Ireland peace process, says former Irish PM

John Bruton also warned of 'enormous' job losses and delays at borders if a trade agreement is not reached

Ashley Cowburn
Political Correspondent
Wednesday 11 October 2017 16:55 BST
Former Irish PM John Bruton
Former Irish PM John Bruton (Getty)

Brexit negotiations resulting in a “no deal” would be devastating for the peace process in Northern Ireland, the former Irish Prime Minister has warned.

John Bruton, the former Taoiseach between 1994 and 1997, claimed that if Britain left the bloc without a settlement in place it would inevitably result in barriers being erected on the border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Earlier this week Mr Burton also suggested that Brexit should be delayed until 2023, insisting that two-year timeframe granted under Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty – triggered in March by the Prime Minister – was too short.

It comes after Theresa May outlined in the Commons that the Government was preparing for all possible outcomes in the Brexit negotiations, including allocating funds for the talks collapsing without a deal.

As hopes of an agreement appeared to fade at home and abroad, the Prime Minister – for the first time – set out detailed “steps to minimise disruption in March 2019. They included plans for huge inland lorry parks to cope with lengthy new customs checks that will be required.

The Chancellor went as far on Wednesday to suggest that air travel could be disrupted if no deal is reached between the EU and the UK.

Discussing the ramifications of a “no deal”, Mr Bruton told Sky News’s All Out Politics: “The effects in Ireland would be devastating for the peace process.

”I spent a lot of my life building a reconciliation that enabled a peace process in Northern Ireland to be put in place.

“That's going to be utterly disrupted by the barriers that will have to be imposed along the border if Britain leaves the European Union without a satisfactory deal.”

Mr Bruton also warned of “enormous” job losses and delays at borders if a trade agreement is not reached. “Most of the cheddar that you eat in Britain is produced in Ireland,” he said.

He continued: “If that had to bear a very heavy tariff, or if many of the food industry exports from Britain to Ireland had to bear a very heavy tariff, the disruption would be enormous, the delays would be enormous, the loss of jobs would be enormous.

“All of this could perhaps be avoided if we just took a little bit more time to do the deal in a rational way rather than in accordance with an unduly tight timetable which was put in place on the assumption that something like Brexit would not actually happen."

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