Unionists are “right to be concerned” about the draft Brexit text, says the Political Editor of the Financial Times.
The Nolan Show asked George Parker if sections of the deal are so significant that unionists should be worried about it threatening the integrity of NI’s place in the UK?
He replied: “I can see why they would and if you look at it in a literal, legalistic way then, yes, I think they are right to be concerned.”
However he believed the backstop [guarantee against a hard border] “is not intended to be used and I suspect it never would be used”.
It could be triggered at the end of the transition period in 2020 if there is no trade deal but he was confident the government will prefer to apply for a simpler extension of the UK-wide arrangement.
The issue will turn out to be “a fuss about nothing” he said, “but I can see why for now at least - because it is written into a legal treaty - why people are concerned”.
The text majors on checks on trade across the Irish Sea “which obviously does put NI in a different category to the rest of the UK” but this can be minimised, for example, by checks away from ports.