The Border post-Brexit
Sir, – I understand the logic of Brendan Simms’s argument that, if a North-South border in Ireland post-Brexit would offend against the identity of Northern Irish nationalists, then an equivalent border in the Irish Sea would violate the identity of Northern unionists – and that Leo Varadkar, in favouring the latter over the former, is in breach of the spirit of the Belfast Agreement (“If Johnson becomes PM, he should thank Varadkar, says historian”, News Feature, July 20th) .
Prof Simms, however, fails to take account of the fact that the Belfast Agreement is premised on the United Kingdom and Ireland both being members of the European Union.
When the UK pulls out of the EU, an essential prop of the Belfast Agreement is removed. The UK is thus in breach of the spirit of the Belfast Agreement, and the party that remains faithful to it – namely, Ireland – cannot reasonably be criticised for seeking to minimise the fallout on the island of Ireland by insisting upon the less disruptive of the two border options post-Brexit.
Having no border is not possible when the UK leaves the EU.
A further relevant consideration is, of course, that Northern Ireland voted to remain within the EU.
In resisting a border on the island of Ireland, Mr Varadkar is reflecting the wishes of both polities on the island of Ireland – and Prof Simms should give him credit for that. – Yours, etc,