House of Lords vote should make UK Government reassess Brexit approach, says Farry

Alliance Brexit spokesperson Stephen Farry MLA has said the House of Lords backing for keeping an open border after Brexit should give the UK Government a platform to reassess its approach to the issue.
Dr Farry was speaking after the House of Lords passed a cross-party amendment to the UK Government’s Withdrawal Agreement with the EU by 309 votes to 242, calling for continuation of north-south co-operation and the prevention of new border arrangements.

“This is the first time either House of Parliament has voted to give specific recognition of the central importance of ensuring an open border on the island of Ireland and protecting the Good Friday Agreement,” he said.

“Northern Ireland only works as a shared society, with a whole series of interlocking relationships. Any new divisions, barriers or friction will cause huge problems, so the avoidance of new border checks or any infrastructure is much more than a challenge of preventing economic damage. It is also critical to understand the emotional and psychological implications.

“The UK Government is formally committed to ensuring an open border without new infrastructure. However, they stubbornly refuse to confront the logic of what this entails and to break out from their self-imposed trilemma of contradictory objectives, namely avoiding a hard border within the island of Ireland, for the UK as whole to leave both the customs union and the single market, and to rule out any special arrangements for Northern Ireland in relation to a customs union and single market.

“At the same time, technological solutions remain untested, and would be intrusive. Similarly, the mooted new customs partnership from the UK Government would be overly bureaucratic and would not actually provide a comprehensive solution.

“Something has to give on the UK Government position over the coming weeks and hopefully this important vote in the House of Lords can give a platform for this necessary reassessment to occur.”

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