Irish border could be tighter than that between Belarus and Ukraine

FERMANAGH could end up with “the hardest border in Europe” if the UK leaves the EU without a deal, with one analyst suggesting it could have tighter security than the frontier between Ukraine and its pro-Russian neighbour Belarus.
Alarm bells are ringing as the March Brexit deadline rapidly approaches and it now seems Brussels may be scaling back its support for Ireland on the border issue, while hardline Brexiteers are regularly winning their battles in the Conservative civil war.
Previous promises from all sides of the negotiating table that there would be no hard border are becoming increasingly flimsy and a “no deal” scenario is quickly becoming a terrifying possibility.
Now German politician Joachim Pfeiffer, a key ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel, has warned without a deal in place neither the UK or the EU may have no choice but to impose the hardest possible border controls – something which would prove disastrous for Fermanagh.
Mr Pfeiffer said all other countries had some sort of trade deal with the EU, even Russia, and even those with “hundreds of treaties” such as Norway still had a hard border with the union. If the UK leaves without reaching any deal, he said, Ireland would end up with the hardest border of all as “there will be hourly changes, there will be divergence in every sector.”
“I don’t see at the moment a solution in detail which addresses the open questions,” he said.
It would be an apocalyptic scenario here in Fermanagh, where hundreds cross the border daily for work and family life, and economy depends on cross border trade.
Shane Wilson, chairman of the Lisnaskea Chamber of Commerce said the business community was very concerned.
“At this late stage of the Brexit process, it is very disappointing there is still no clear certainty on the basis or circumstances the UK will exit the EU, if there will be a deal or no deal,” he said.
Mr Wilson added visits by PM Theresa May and EU officials showed no one wanted to back to a hard border and the issues it would bring, and said providing clarity on this it should be a top priority at the upcoming negotiations.
Last week a series of parliamentary votes in Westminster all but killed the formerly agreed “backstop” that would have prevented the unthinkable for those here in the county, and governments on both sides of the Irish Sea now appear to be preparing for the worst.
An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said 1,000 new customs and veterinary inspectors will need to be hired in preparation for Brexit, while PSNI chief constable Geroge Hamilton this week urged the UK government to increase the force’s resources in order to recruit thousands more officers for life after EU withdrawal.

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