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21st Sep 2018

Irish people point out the obvious about Theresa May’s ‘divides our country in two’ remark

Paul Moore

Brexit Irish

Does somebody want to tell her?

During a combative speech at Downing Street on Friday, Theresa May demanded “respect” from the EU after her Brexit strategy was recently dismissed at an acrimonious summit in Salzburg.

On the issue of Northern Ireland and the border, May said: “Creating any form of customs border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK would not respect that Northern Ireland is an integral part of the United Kingdom, in line with the principle of consent, as set out clearly in the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement.

“It is something I will never agree to – indeed, in my judgement it is something no British Prime Minister would ever agree to. If the EU believe I will, they are making a fundamental mistake.”

“Anything which fails to respect the referendum or which effectively divides our country in two would be a bad deal and I have always said no deal is better than a bad deal,” May added.

“But I have also been clear that the best outcome is for the UK to leave with a deal. That is why, following months of intensive work and detailed discussions, we proposed a third option for our future economic relationship, based on the frictionless trade in goods. That is the best way to protect jobs here and in the EU and to avoid a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.”

May also spoke about the Irish backstop and the concept of “breaking up our country,” saying: “We both agree that the Withdrawal Agreement needs to include a backstop to ensure that if there’s a delay in implementing our new relationship, there still won’t be a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

“But the EU is proposing to achieve this by effectively keeping Northern Ireland in the Customs Union. As I have already said, that is unacceptable. We will never agree to it. It would mean breaking up our country.”

It’s worth noting that the Brexit referendum – much like any important political issue – completely divided Great Britain. The EU didn’t call for a referendum, David Cameron’s administration did –  so the idea that the EU is “effectively dividing our country in two”, as May put it, is flawed.

In terms of the United Kingdom, Northern Irish voters indicated that the majority wanted no part of Brexit, with the Remain side in the north taking 55.77% of the vote.

Granted, the vote across the entirety of the United Kingdom stood at 51.9% to leave the European Union, but Northern Ireland’s objection must be noted.

As for the third point, May’s use of terms like “breaking up our country” and “divides our country in two,” well, the irony of those remarks didn’t really need to be pointed out.

However, plenty of people did.

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