Theresa May has started off her trip to the north of Ireland in Beleek, County Fermanagh marking her first trip to the border since the Brexit referendum two years ago.
The BBC reported that she is visiting and speaking with businesses along the border in addition to asserting her commitment to local politicians that there must be a ‘frictionless’ boundary.
The British government claims that it has promised to maintain an open, or ‘soft’ border as opposed to a physical ‘hard’ boundary that could destabilize the region.
So far, however, if no plan is made to keep the border frictionless, the only hope of a free-flowing border in this case would be to implement the proposed customs backstop plan that would temporarily keep the UK in the EU customs union. This would be in place until 2021, which would give the Irish and British governments more time to figure out a solution.
“I fully recognize how their livelihoods, families and friends rely on the ability to move freely across the border to trade, live and work on a daily basis,” May stated
“That’s why we have ruled out any kind of hard border. Daily journeys will continue to be seamless and there will be no checks or infrastructure at the border to get in the way of this.”
Sinn Féin saw May’s visit as one taken far too late, with the party’s leader in the north, Michelle O’Neill accusing the PM of attempting to go back on her commitment of ensuring that a hard border is avoided.
“Two years on from the Brexit Referendum and Theresa May has finally decided to make a visit to a border constituency.
“She will hear at first hand the catastrophic implications for our economy, our rights and our future. The fears that businesses have for their future survival. The justified fears of individuals in relation to the diminution of their rights,” O’Neill stated.
She believes that this trip will provide the Prime Minister insight into the severity of the situation for residents along these border communities, many of whom rely on frequent cross-border business trips.
Read More: Ireland and Brexit - preparing for the worst