May reassures ‘full protection for cross-border cooperation’

The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Theresa May, has said that “there will be no hard border” on the island of Ireland. She added that there “will be full protection for all existing cross-border cooperation”.

The Leader of the Conservative Party, May, made the comments today (Tuesday, February 5) as she was speaking to business leaders in Northern Ireland.

She added that she will ensure there is no “physical infrastructure or related checks and controls” on the border of Ireland.

The Prime Minister outlined that full “cooperation on health and transport and keeping the island of Ireland disease free for animals and plants” will remain.

“Every area of existing cross-border cooperation must be respected.”

In her speech, May reassured people living in the border region that they “will be able to live their lives as they do now”.

I’ve spoken to people in places like Fermanagh who remember the customs border posts, approved roads and security installations of the not-so-distant past.

The Prime Minister said she has also spoken with businesses who have supply chains that cross between Great Britain, Northern Ireland and Ireland.

She said that she understands how “thousands of people” move back and forward between Northern Ireland and Ireland every day “to go to work, to see family, and to do their shopping”.

I understand what a hard border would mean. Not just in terms of the disruption at the border itself but in terms of trade with the island.

“A seamless border between Northern Ireland and Ireland is integral. It has been the cornerstone around which the community in Northern Ireland has come together to deliver peace and prosperity and I will not do anything to put that at risk.”

May stressed that if cooperation changes are to occur, “it will be a matter for Belfast and Dublin in accordance with the three-stranded approach – not as a consequence of our EU exit”.

Concluding, the Prime Minister vowed to “uphold the rights enshrined in the Belfast Agreement for all the people of Northern Ireland right across the whole community”.