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    Northern Irish Border May Become 'Lawless Space' Due to Hard Brexit

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    A lack of compromise between the UK and Irish Governments over the Northern Irish border could potentially turn the region into a "hole in the fence," according to a professor from Ulster University in Belfast.

    While it was increasingly possible that the UK could crash out of the EU with no agreement in place over the issue, the details of putting up a frontier between the UK and the Irish Republic with regular checks would be equally fraught with difficulty, essentially leading to a 'No Deal and No Border' situation, Duncan Morrow, Professor of Applied Social and Policy Science, told Sputnik. 

    "There would be no real border put up and no real agreement in practice because the implementation will be extremely difficult so you could potentially have a hole in the fence between the EU and Britain, it could become a lawless space," he said.

    Professor Morrow opined that the UK could possibly use the complications of erecting a hard border as leverage in the negotiations, knowing the difficulties in implementing such a system. However he noted that the entire process is creating a crisis of confidence Britain's institutions as the Good Friday Agreement through which Northern Ireland is governed would be severely weakened.

    "It would certainly mean that governing Northern Ireland becomes much more difficult. You've undermined the political process and therefore opened yourself up to a very uncertain future."

    'Ways to Get Around Borders'

    Britain's International Trade Secretary and hard Brexit advocate Liam Fox said November 27 that the border dispute could not be resolved until a UK-EU trade agreement is finalized, while Brussels has insisted that London has days to fix the issue before the trade talks could proceed.

    Professor Roger MacGinty of the University of Manchester's Peace and Conflict Studies pointed out that a somewhat "lawless" border region would not necessarily be unprecedented given the recent history of Ireland.

    "People always find ways to get around borders — particularly borders that don't make any sense. People along the border are used to crossing it several times a day. They simply will not tolerate going back to the bad old days of long queues at military checkpoints. During the Troubles communities made their own roads that by-passed the official border," he said.

    The Irish Government has repeatedly threatened to veto any UK-EU trade agreement without assurances that a 'hard border' with Northern Ireland is off the table. Britain meanwhile has ruled out Northern Ireland remaining within the Single Market and the Customs Union or any measure that would lessen its sovereignty over the country.

    Ireland's Taoiseach Leo Varadkar arrives at the EU summit meeting in Brussels, Belgium, October 19, 2017.
    © REUTERS/ Eric Vidal
    Ireland's Taoiseach Leo Varadkar arrives at the EU summit meeting in Brussels, Belgium, October 19, 2017.

    Early Irish Election?

    Professor Morrow also explained that the possibility of an early Irish election would pressure Irish parties to take a harder line on the negotiations at their most crucial stage.

    "Politicians have to take positions to win the election, that is always difficult," he said.

    Related:

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    UK 'Act of Supreme Selfishness' Means Ireland Will Not Back Down on Soft Border
    'Very Strong Leadership Coming Up in Ireland' - Sinn Fein's Former Head of Spin
    Northern Ireland Talks Have Ended in Failure - Sinn Fein
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    Northern Ireland peace process, UK, Brexit, Ireland, Brexit, European Union, Liam Fox, EU, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom, Ireland
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