Secret Brexit documents warn of return to violence in Northern Ireland

Secret Brexit documents warn of return to violence in Northern Ireland

Secret documents leaked by British officials preparing for the UK’s departure from the European Union warn of a potential return to violence in Northern Ireland.

The officials are from the department codenamed ‘Yellowhammer,’ which is drawing up plans for a ‘No Deal’ Brexit. Their work is top secret and the British government is furious that details from their contingency plans have been leaked, possibly by a former minister in favour of remaining in the EU.

Secret Brexit documents warn of return to violence in Northern Ireland

The leaked documents make grim reading for anyone concerned about peace and prosperity in Ireland.

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The major problem of a No Deal Brexit is the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic, which due to Brexit will become the border between the UK and the EU. This will create the need for customs checks, but it’s feared the return of a hard border is likely to reignite the Troubles that plagued Ireland for nearly 40 years.

The British government’s official position is that the customs checks can be carried out without physical border posts using technology but both Ireland and the EU have dismissed this as unworkable because no such technology exists.

The Yellowhammer document seems to confirm this view and says that a return to a hard border in the wake of a No Deal Brexit is “inevitable”.

It says that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s belief in the use of technological solutions and a “can-do spirit” to avoid a hard border would quickly prove “unsustainable”. It warns of civil disorder when local communities respond with “direct action” and road blockades.

The mention of direct action is a clear reference to violence from paramilitaries. There are already indications that the men of violence are waiting in the wings as shown in the murder of journalist Lyra McKee in April. The New IRA admitted it was responsible

The British dismissed the claims in the leaked documents as scaremongering. Michael Gove, the minister coordinating no deal planning, responded on Twitter by saying: “We don’t normally comment on leaks – but a few facts – Yellowhammer is a worst-case scenario.”

He added that “very significant steps have been taken in the last three weeks to accelerate Brexit planning”.

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Nevertheless, the Yellowhammer civil servants insist they are not scaremongering. An insider from the British cabinet told the Sunday Times, which first published the leaked documents: “It is a devastating health check on the country’s preparedness.

“This is not Project Fear — this is the most realistic assessment of what the public face with no-deal. These are likely, basic, reasonable scenarios, not the worst-case scenario.”

The Yellowhammer documents also warn of serious economic consequences if trade tariffs are introduced following Brexit, with some firms going out of business. It says: “The expectation is that some businesses will stop trade to avoid paying the tariff, which will make them uncompetitive, or to avoid the risk of trading illegally, while others will continue to trade, but experience higher costs which may be passed on to consumers.”

The UK is currently due to leave the European Union with or without a deal on 31 October. The British parliament, however, including some rebel members of the ruling Conservative Party, have vowed to bring down the government rather than allow a No Deal Brexit.

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