Prof: Irish Republic, Britain Relations Were at All-Time High Until Brexit

© REUTERS / Clodagh KilcoyneA scrabble board spells out Brexit in Dublin, Ireland May 4 2016.
A scrabble board spells out Brexit in Dublin, Ireland May 4 2016. - Sputnik International
A highly critical report by MPs warns that Theresa May has failed to set out a solution to prevent a hard border in Ireland after Brexit and time is now running out. Sputnik spoke to Liam Kennedy, professor of economic history at Queen's University Belfast about the latest with the border issue.

Sputnik: Why has there still not been an efficient agreement over the Irish border?

Liam Kennedy: It’s very hard to tell, the cynical view is that the EU negotiator and Michel Barnier in particular is using the Irish border as a major bargaining chip. I’m not sure that is still the case, it may well be that they feel it really is a hard nut to crack, and the Irish government is going in heavily behind the EU negotiators. In short it is hard to say, but there is the old mantra nothing is agreed until everything is agreed, this is one of those hot topics that are still in the melting pot.

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Sputnik: Could we see there being no deal Brexit because of the Irish border issue?

Liam Kennedy: I think from a Dublin or Republic of Ireland point of view that would be a dreadful outcome and for Britain as well of course. It’s certainly possible but it would surprise me, my feeling is Dublin would be extremely embarrassed if it headed in that direction and would exert influence to downgrade the Irish issue. It’s because the Republic of Ireland’s major trading partner is the UK, and are very dependent on UK goodwill and it cuts both ways. Until Brexit was around the relations between the Irish Republic and Britain were at an all-time high, understanding was better than they have ever been.

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Sputnik: Could this further any likely calls for a reunification of Ireland?

Liam Kennedy: The Brexit debate has already ignited around Irish unity, if you go back a few years no one here was seriously considering that an issue. It is now being talked about where anyone likes it or dislikes it. Brexit would add further to that debate, particularly a hard Brexit as it would mark a deterioration of Dublin London relations. Political parties on both sides of the divide, both nationalist and unionist I expect would enter into a huge blame game and that would be politically destabilising.

The views expressed in this article are those of the speaker, and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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