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  • Writer's pictureFriends of Sinn Féin USA


You've had questions and we've got answers. We have received lots of great questions about Brexit in the comment sections of posts. Below we have answered some very good ones. Check it out, brush up on the latest and see if your question was answered. Feel free to add any comments or questions in the comment section.

When does the current Brexit transition period end?

The transition period ends at midnight December 31st, 2020. On January 1st, 2021 Britain will have left the EU with or without a Trade Deal. It would take a number of months to ratify a trade deal. The EU has said that agreement on a trade deal would be required by the end of October 2020 to allow for ratification before the end of the year and they have held open the possibility of extending the transition period. British PM Boris Johnson has refused the offer of an extension and set a deadline of October 15th for a deal.

What is the Irish Protocol?

The imposition of Brexit on the North of Ireland will mean that one part of Ireland will be in the EU (South) and the other will be outside (North). Without the Irish Protocol, this would impose an international trade border across Ireland and undermine the Good Friday Agreement in terms of all Ireland working and the rights of citizens. The Irish Protocol ensures the entire island in the EU single market for goods, moving the area where checks are needed from the Irish border (North -South) to the Irish sea (North - Britain). The Irish Protocol is part of a wider Withdrawal Agreement that was designed to ensure that there would be no hard border across Ireland, all Ireland / cross border working would continue, no diminution of the rights of citizens and that the Good Friday Agreement would be protected in all of its parts.

What way did the North vote on the Brexit referendum?

In the Brexit Referendum on June 23rd 2016, the majority in the North rejected Brexit and voted to remain within the EU. The leaders of the majority parties wrote to Boris Johnson rejecting his recent plans to break international law and his agreements. The Northern Assembly voted to reject the British government's proposal to walk away from the Withdrawal Agreement and Irish Protocol. The British government does not represent the majority of the people of the North on the issue of Brexit.

Will the North be forced to leave the EU's customs union and single market?

The Withdrawal Agreement and Irish Protocol are signed into international law and so the North of Ireland has a unique status and would in effect stay within the Customs Union and Single Market. However, if the British continue on the path of abandoning their commitment to the Withdrawal Agreement and the Irish Protocol, all bets are off.

Will there be tariffs on goods travelling from the South of Ireland to the North and vice versa?

Ireland is too small an economy to afford partition. The development of the all-Ireland economy has been a success of the peace process and membership of the EU. The Withdrawal agreement would mean that the majority of goods could continue to crisscross the border free from impediments and tariffs. Again if the Withdrawal Agreement is abandoned by the British this question remains uncertain.

Will people in the North still receive EU subsidies?

No, starting on January 1st, 2021 businesses and projects in the North will not be able to apply for the vast majority of EU support. Farmers will not be able to access CAP funds, universities will not have access to the EU wide programs and the government will not have access to EU infrastructure funding. The British Government has “committed” to meet the shortfall for two years.

Will the current invisible border be a visible customs checkpoint?

If the Withdrawal Agreement is implemented as agreed this will avoid customs infrastructure along the border and just some additional checks at ports of entry and access. While the border would remain invisible the outworking of Brexit will continue to threaten the Good Friday Agreement. If the British Government continues with their threat to break international law and walk away from their commitments, then there is a threat of the return of physical infrastructure along the border.

If there is a physical border again on the island of Ireland, who builds it?

Without an agreement, trade would fall under the purview of the World Trade Organization rules that require customs checks etc. on each side of the border.

What does a border on the Irish sea actually look like?

It would be invisible and would amount to additional checks at the ports of entry and exit from the North. Checks are already in place on issues such as animal health. It would also entail some additional paperwork for businesses which is minimal compared to the cost of a no deal Brexit.

Is there a route for the North Back to the EU?

The EU has agreed that a united Ireland would automatically be a member of the EU. The route back to the EU is simple. It’s Irish Unity.

What can I do to help?

The United States has skin in the game. The US is a guarantor of the Good Friday Agreement and in the past two weeks US political leaders have made clear that there will be no US/British Trade Deal if British actions undermine the Good Friday Agreement or lead to the imposition of a hard border across Ireland. You can play your part by contacting your member of Congress and Senators and ask them to step up on this critical issue. Protect Ireland, protect the Good Friday Agreement, protect peace.

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