If Brexit means that there must be a border somewhere, then unionists should reluctantly accept a border poll now
A letter from Mr RG McDowell:
There seems to be a repeated narrative from various English and European politicians that if the Irish Sea border is to go a new border must go somewhere.
Whilst in some ways it seems unbelievable that unionists need to provide the alternative rather than the focus being on minimising issues where the border actually exists let’s take on the unfortunate reality and accept the repeated calls for a border poll.
If a border has to go somewhere due to Brexit then lets have an Northern Ireland border poll at the earliest opportunity.
If unionism prevails then Northern Ireland’s position within the UK must be respected which means no internal UK borders and the minimum of a hard border required in Ireland where such a border belongs.
If nationalism wins then unionism must face the reality of a border with Britain not just in the sea but as a matter of fact.
Such a referendum would have to be a once in a generation thing as a referendum every seven years isn’t a test of democracy but rather a war of attrition.
The terms of such a referendum should be that another one couldn’t be held for another 25 years unless a majority of people in an assembly election voted for parties that were clearly designated as nationalist in which case it would be reasonable for a secretary of state to call a referendum at any time.
The Good Friday Agreement is not compatible with an Irish Sea border.
If the British, European and American governments want to respect the Good Friday Agreement and republicans want a border poll then let us have one in 2021 / 2022 on the understanding that the result will be respected unlike the result of the Brexit referendum which was not respected for the two-thirds of unionists in Northern Ireland who voted for the winning side.
Mr RG McDowell, Belfast BT5
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