02:47 GMT01 November 2020
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    It has been suggested the British Army could be sent to police the UK's borders in the event of a "no deal" Brexit - a prospect that could see a return of troops to Northern Ireland, recalling the dark days of the "Troubles."

    UK Home Office permanent secretary Philip Rutnam has suggested troops could patrol Britain's borders as a "last resort" should the country exit the European Union without securing a deal.

    Under questioning by the Commons Home Affairs Committee on whether the UK could sufficiently staff the borders in all possible outcomes of Brexit negotiations, Rutnam said it would be "unwise to rule anything out."

    ​"It seems clear to me any use of the military would be an absolute last resort. Our preference — strong preference — is to deal with the border and security needed at the border, through border force and that is the basis in which our planning is proceeding," Rutnam said.

    In the event British Armed Forces were deployed, uniformed military patrols would be charged with checking travelers and goods arriving in the UK — although the permanent secretary was quick to note the government had already begun recruiting an additional 300 border force officers to ensure all possible Brexit outcomes were covered for.

    Rutnam's comments followed mere hours after Brexit Secretary David Davis said the prospect of "no deal" must be seriously considered for "negotiating reasons and sensible security" — although following Rutnam's grilling by MPs, Home Secretary Amber Rudd told the same committee it would be "unthinkable" for the negotiations with Brussels to end without a deal in place. 

    If Rutnam's scenario came to pass, it would not be the first time the British military has stepped in to help ease understaffing issues in other services. For instance, troops were dispatched to the 2012 London Olympics after private security giant G4S failed to train enough security staff for the event.

    This is a June 15, 2016 file photo of of traffic crossing the border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland in the village of Bridgend, Co Donegal Ireland.
    © AP Photo / Brian Lawless
    This is a June 15, 2016 file photo of of traffic crossing the border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland in the village of Bridgend, Co Donegal Ireland.
    It would also see military staff dispatched to Northern Ireland's border with the Republic of Ireland, recalling the dark days of the "Troubles" — an effective civil war in Derry.

    Derry, Northern Ireland
    © Sputnik / Nikolai Gorshkov
    Derry, Northern Ireland

    Brussels, Dublin and London have all expressed a strong desire not to return to state of affairs, and the issue of the Irish border has been at the forefront of initial Brexit negotiations — negotiations which nonetheless are yet to bear tangible concord in any area of discussion.


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    Irish Question, Brexit negotiations, Brexit talks, military police, border agency, national borders, borders, Brexit, British Army, European Union, Philip Rutnam, David Davis, Republic of Ireland, Europe, Britain, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom
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