Politics

Karen Bradley: No-deal Brexit could create 'feelings of unrest'


The Northern Ireland secretary has said she believes a no-deal Brexit could put in jeopardy some of the UK’s current constitutional arrangements.

Karen Bradley said there could be “feelings of unrest” among those who did not want the to leave the EU.

She would not comment on reports that she told cabinet a no-deal scenario would make the prospect of a referendum on a united Ireland much more likely.

Mrs Bradley is known to support the prime minister’s withdrawal deal.

She told BBC News NI she would not comment on anything that she may, or may not, have said at cabinet, adding that she was well aware of her obligations under the Belfast Agreement in regard to assessing whether or not a border poll should be held.

“I have been clear that I believe no deal is bad for the United Kingdom, it’s bad for the whole United Kingdom because it does put in jeopardy some of those constitutional arrangements,” said Mrs Bradley.

“I’m sure it will create feeling of unrest with people in all parts of the United Kingdom who didn’t want to see us leave the European Union.”

Asked to respond to the DUP’s view that the Northern Ireland backstop contained in the Withdrawal Agreement poses a greater threat to the integrity of the UK than a no-deal Brexit, Mrs Bradley said that she wanted to make sure that all the concerns that have been expressed about the backstop are assuaged.

The secretary of state said the government had made clear its unilateral commitments to Northern Ireland in a paper published earlier this week, but that ultimately there is a political judgement to be made.

“Sometimes in business, in life, in politics you have to assess what you believe the balance of risks are, how do you mitigate those risks and what is the opportunity for the United Kingdom leaving the European Union,” she said.

Questioned about whether giving a future Northern Ireland Assembly a role in approving trade regulations after Brexit might complicate the task of restoring devolution, Mrs Bradley insisted that the “Stormont lock” had been part of the joint report agreed by the UK and the EU in December 2017.

Two years on from Martin McGuinness’s resignation as deputy first minister and the collapse of Northern Ireland’s political institutions, the secretary of state again insisted that she wanted to see the devolved institutions restored.

However, she refused to put a time frame on when she might convene any more inter-party talks.



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