A deal with the EU that does grave damage to our Union

News Letter editorial
News Letter editorial
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Fabian Picardo, the chief minister of Gibraltar, tweeted over the weekend in praise of Theresa May.

He said that the prime minister had given “The clearest, firmest support EVER by a British Prime Minister iro #Gibraltar by @theresa_may. Also the most timely.

“Mrs May has fully supported us, our British sovereignty & our economy. She has never let us down! Her #WithdrawalAgreement works for us!”

We are delighted for Gibraltar, which has faced centuries of tension with Spain and sincerely hope that things work out for them as well as they seem to believe they will.

If only the prime minister had shown the same resolve over Northern Ireland.

The problems with what has been agreed in the Withdrawal Agreement are immediately apparent, thanks to Sinn Fein. The party is already demanding that people in Northern Ireland get the vote in MEP elections in the Republic.

That is only the beginning. If this deal goes through, Northern Ireland will effectively been in the EU customs union and single market forever. It will only be a matter of time before republicans are demanding MEPs here in Northern Ireland, not merely voting rights for across the border, and in the meantime Irish government representation for the Province on customs and regulatory policy discussions.

SF will in time get support from other parties. Will there also be a demand to curtail the voting rights at Westminster of Northern Ireland MPs, on business which is not relevant to NI?

Meanwhile, the EU will have an incentive to change regulations in a way that put this region increasingly at odds with Great Britain.

As Boris Johnson said at the DUP conference on Saturday, and as Arlene Foster and Nigel Dodds also said, this is clearly an unacceptable deal that does grave damage to our Union.