Brexit could result in ‘unionist nightmare’

Paul Gosling.

Paul Gosling.

Londonderry-based journalist and economic commentator Paul Gosling believes Brexit could precipitate a ‘hard border’ between Great Britain and Northern Ireland and a ‘unionist nightmare’.

Mr Gosling outlined the potential scenario, which is also considered in a recently published report on Brexit by the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee (NIAC), in a letter to the Financial Times.

In his letter Mr Gosling warns: “In your editorial ‘Northern Ireland cannot afford a British EU exit’ (June 10) you argue that the adoption of a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic is inevitable with Brexit. “There is, in fact, one alternative - a hard border between Northern Ireland and Great Britain - in particular to control migration.

“In fact, that may be the necessary alternative. The border between Northern Ireland and the Republic is permeable, with scores of back roads and farmers’ fields that are probably impossible to control.”

Mr Gosling suggested in the letter that the DUP’s prominent support for Brexit could backfire.

He stated: “There is just one political party in Northern Ireland that supports Brexit - the Democratic Unionist Party. Yet a Brexit might create a de facto border and division between Great Britain and Northern Ireland that is a unionist’s nightmare.”

In its recent report, the NIAC stated that rather than tightening the border here post-Brexit: “An alternative solution might be to strengthen the border between the island of Ireland and the British mainland.

The report adds: “The UUP told us they had been told by the Government that it did not envisage policing the border with the Republic and that the Government’s preferred solution would be to put in place a more robust system of checks at relevant ports and airports on the mainland.”

It says: “imposing security checks for those travelling between parts of the UK would also be highly undesirable.”