Unionism is being led off a constitutional cliff edge, and the only way out is to stop Brexit

If it seemed obvious in late 2017 that the best interests of unionism lay in stopping Brexit, it is now overwhelmingly so
If it seemed obvious in late 2017 that the best interests of unionism lay in stopping Brexit, it is now overwhelmingly so

I wrote a letter to the News Letter dated December 18, 2017.

You gave it the title ‘Unionists need to stop Brexit’.

Letter to the editor

Letter to the editor

Now, almost 15 months later, we are in the real crunch zone.

If it seemed obvious in late 2017 that the best interests of unionism lay in stopping Brexit, it is now overwhelmingly so.

Look, for example, at a suggestion coming from elements within European Commission last week — an offer of what was called ‘a mini Brexit’ for the UK.

This would entail Great Britain having an escape clause from the customs union, but would have Northern Ireland firmly trapped in the customs union and in much of the regulatory framework of the single market. A border in the Irish Sea would be writ large.

What would a stop to Brexit mean? It would mean no hard border on the island of Ireland. It would mean no border of any kind down the Irish Sea.

It would mean all of us in Northern Ireland partaking in a shared membership of the European Union, a sharing that would of course also embrace both the rest of the UK and the Republic of Ireland.

Looking further down the road, with the possibility of a referendum on a so-called united Ireland, it is vital for unionism to attract as many votes as possible, most particularly from what one might call “floating voters”, many of whom up to now have felt reasonably comfortable with a situation of open borders (whether sea or land) and a shared membership of the EU .

Indeed if a referendum were to go against the unionist position, at least we would have the comfort and indeed the security of a shared EU membership with our (current) fellow citizens in the rest of the UK.

The logic behind the DUP’s position on Brexit is quite beyond me.

As things stand they are leading unionism over a constitutional cliff edge.

The only sensible way out is for Brexit to be stopped in its tracks.

Let us get back to the relatively comfortable space we all shared before the 2016 Brexit referendum.

Frederick W. Boal (Prof), Ballyclare