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Lord Empey rejects Brexit report’s assertion that leaving EU could spark terrorism again as ‘reckless’

Ulster Unionist Peer Lord Empey has commented on research on the impact of Brexit on Northern Ireland which has been published today by BrexitLawNI - a partnership from Queen's University Belfast, Ulster University and the Committee on the Administration of Justice (CAJ).

Lord Empey said:

“There are a number of headline issues which stand out.

1) The suggestion that leaving the EU could spark terrorism again is a reckless assertion and can only provide an excuse for those who have never accepted the peace process and the arrangements arising from it. To assert that fellow Irishmen and women are prepared to kill their neighbours or blow their legs off because we are leaving the EU (an institution which Sinn Fein opposed us joining in the 1970s) is outrageous. To shape public policy out of fear of terrorism is to abandon the Rule of law and democracy, and would be the path to anarchy. Indeed, some people seem to have forgotten that throughout the period of the UK’s membership of the EU, the IRA was fully active.

2) There is no necessity for a hard border. The UK government has said it will not erect one, therefore who is going to put it up and for what purpose? There already is a currency border, a fiscal border and a jurisdictional border and that will remain, but it does not need physical infrastructure to continue.

3) The question of the land border has been grossly exaggerated. The amount of trade across this border in EU terms is minute. Most of the Irish Republic's exports go to Great Britain which as well as being the Republic's biggest customer is also the land bridge for Irish exports to the EU and beyond. Only 1.6% of the Republic's imports come from Northern Ireland and only 1.6% of the Republic's exports go to Northern Ireland. The vast majority of this trade is done by the same companies every day.

4) The demand for economic rights to be incorporated in a new Bill of Rights was rejected by unionists many years ago. We would make our economy totally uncompetitive, and in any event this has nothing to do with Brexit as this argument was made long before the issue came up. The UK government has pledged that there will be no reduction in employee rights and that is now part of UK law.

5) With regard to movement of people, no changes are anticipated on this island. Both governments already operate regimes to monitor illegal immigration and that will continue. People who try and come here as economic migrants will still have to obtain national insurance numbers in order to work and they won't qualify for benefits, but that is only fair. No country can simply allow anybody to turn up and settle with full entitlements. There are now and will continue to be processes they have to go through in order to assess their entitlement to remain. This is now mainstream thinking throughout the EU.”

Ulster Unionists