Brexit Vote Could Cause Northern Ireland to Disappear from Europe economically; bring renewed violen


n the above picture, I am standing in the Village of Omeath, in County Louth, within the Republic of Ireland. l Am looking across a narrow waterway or strait bordering the city of Warrenpoint, in the northern County of Down. Warrenpoint, along with all the cities and towns in the six counties of northern Ireland, will disappear from the map of Europe, economically, since the northern region will be removed from the European Union (EU).

Update: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images (from New York Times, April 23, 2019)

I visited northern Ireland last week and found myself standing on an open highway, which was an indistinguishable "soft" border between The United Kingdom section of six counties in the north and The 26 counties in The Republic of Ireland---both sections are within the island of Ireland.

There were no signs, checkpoints or military present at this border area, other than a continuous white line between the two opposite directions of vehicular traffic. The northern border in Ireland is 310 miles long with about 250 "soft" border crossings including waterways, large highways and small roads.

This could all change in the next week, as the British Parliament is struggling to convey to the Europeqn Union, which they have been a strong partner since 1973, how they will withdraw and under what conditions.

The UK voted to leave the European Union in a referendum on June 23, 2016. The vote was 51.8% to leave and 48.2% to remain. This decision, despite the economic growth for England that occurred from joining the EU in 1973 until 2010, has now made the Northern Ireland border an external EU border. If Brexit stands as is, it will cause the expulsion of the six northern Irish counties, which are considered within the UK, from Europe economically.

The danger is that it could also force the Irish government to reinstate a "hard" border on all major highways on its EU border, with checks on all travelers and truckers' visas, all foodstuffs, and goods. This would impose a huge economic loss to the northern Irish counties, and to Britain itself. Furthermore, politically, this change could seriously heighten the "Troubles" and cause new violence between the two countries and within the two Irish regions on the island of Ireland.

There is now freedom of movement for all EU nationals, within the Common Travel Area between the UK and the Republic of Ireland, and no customs or fixed immigration controls at the border either. But that could all change with the manner in which Britain chooses to withdraw from the EU.

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