Former Secretaries of State for Northern Ireland warn on Brexit and the Agreement

Open Britain have organised a letter from former Secretaries of State for Northern Ireland, published today (Tuesday) in the Times, which, on marking the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, warns of the threat that a hard border imposed by Brexit poses to the integrity of the Agreement.

Signed by Peter Mandelson, John Reid, Paul Murphy, Peter Hain and Shaun Woodward, the letter reads: 

On the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday agreement, and as former Northern Ireland secretaries, we are concerned that the re-introduction of a hard border will lead to instability that could threaten the very existence of the agreement. The Good Friday agreement was founded on mutually reinforcing rights and obligations and cemented through referenda in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. A balance was struck within the agreement between the continued union of Northern Ireland with Britain while a majority desire this and the facilitation of an all-island economy across Ireland, underpinned by membership of the EU. Imposing a hard border between north and south as a result of Brexit would disrupt this settlement, upset the political balances central to it and overturn the popular consent that endorsed it. 

Those who value the agreement and the peace it brought to Northern Ireland have a duty to speak up and make clear their opposition to the government’s Brexit policy. They should insist that the option of continuing in the customs union and single market remains open. 

In the coming months the government’s commitment to the Good Friday agreement will be tested. The government must put partisan interest aside and act in the interests of all by prioritising its commitment to peace in Northern Ireland above its desire to have Brexit at any cost.