Sinn Fein say May’s visit to the Irish border is too little too late

Theresa May arrives to visit the Irish border for the first time since the EU referendum and flies straight into a Brexit row as Sinn Fein says her trip is ‘too little too late’

  • Theresa May is visiting Northern Ireland at the invite of DUP leader Arlene Foster
  • PM will meet with politicians and business and  try to sell her Chequers plan
  • Sinn Fein vice president Michelle O’Neill lashed the PM for only just visiting
  • The thorny issue of the Irish border is threatened to derail the entire Brexit talks

Theresa May arrived to visit the Irish border for the first time since the EU referendum today – and flew straight into a Brexit row.

Sinn Fein – the Irish Republican Party which vehemently opposes Brexit – slammed her trip as ‘too little too late’.

And Michelle O’Niell, the party’s leader in Northern Ireland, warned the Prime Minister will hear that local communities and businesses fear Brexit will be ‘catastrophic’ for them.

The PM is visiting local businesses and speaking to politicians as she tours the area in a two-day visit to try to sell her Chequers Brexit plan.

The Irish border question is proving to be the thorniest issue in the Brexit talks – and the PM’s attempts to broker a compromise to keep the crossing soft has almost cost Mrs May her premiership.

Savaged by both Remainers and Brexiteers, the PM is desperately trying to drum up support for her Brexit blueprint  and keep it on the negotiating table.

Theresa May (pictured today in Northern Ireland with DUP leader Arlene Foster) is facing a battle on all fronts to get her Chequers Brexit blueprint through

The Prime Minister (pictured during a visit to a pottery  factory in Northern Ireland with DUP leader Arlene Foster) has insisted that she will get a good deal for the UK – but Brexiteers and Remainers have both lashed her proposals

Sinn Fein Northern Ireland leader Michelle O’Neill (pictured, centre, today) said the PM’s trip was too late – and warned her that communities are terrified about what Brexit will mean for them 

  • Dublin threatens to BLOCK British planes from flying over…

    IMF warns no-deal Brexit will wipe $250bn off EU economy…

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Mrs May met with Arlene Foster – the leader of the DUP, the small Northern Irish unionist party propping Mrs May up in No10 – as she arrived tonight.

The DUP leader is expected to reiterate her warnings to the PM that her party will not countenance any Brexit deal which puts up customs borders between the island of Ireland and the UK.

Speaking ahead of meeting Mrs May tomorrow, Ms O’Neill tore into the PM’s Brexit plans.

She said the Tory leader would hear the ‘fear and trepidation’ of locals living and working near what is to become the UK’s only land border with the European Union. 

IMF warns no deal Brexit will wipe off $250bn from the EU economy 

Mr Raab urged more ‘energy and vigour’ in the negotiations while Mr Barnier warned that time ‘is short’

The EU economy will take a $250billion-a-year hit if there is no trade deal with Britain, a global watchdog warned today.

The bloc as a whole would see 1.5 per cent knocked off its GDP – and the impact on Ireland would be much worse at around 4 per cent.

The scale of the potential damage to the EU from the collapse of Brexit talks has been underlined in a new report from the International Monetary fund.

Previous estimates have suggested the UK would face a 4 per cent blow from no deal.

The dire warning came as new Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab urged more ‘energy and vigour’ in negotiations on his first trip to Brussels to meet Michel Barnier.

A document released by Eurocrats also urged businesses to start preparing for no deal, and raised the prospect of long queues at borders and ports, disruption to planes and new restrictions on data transfers if there is no agreement.   


She added: ‘She is coming two years after the referendum, she is coming two years after negotiating with her own party.

‘I am quite clear what she will hear today, she’ll hear about the catastrophic implications of Brexit, the fear and trepidation of the business community in terms of what comes next for them.

‘We can’t withstand being outside the customs union and the single market.

‘Theresa May needs to realise that we will not be collateral damage her for own reckless Tory agenda.’

Mrs May is visiting Fermanagh following an invite from Democratic Unionist leader Mrs Foster.

Mrs Foster said the PM would hear of the challenges and opportunities presented by Brexit.

‘This visit will enable Mrs May to speak with people who live, work and travel across the much talked about Irish border on a daily basis,’ said Mrs Foster.

‘She will hear first-hand examples of how people see both challenges and opportunities for their sectors as we leave the European Union.

‘For our part, we want to see a sensible exit from the European Union which works for Northern Ireland, the United Kingdom and our nearest neighbours in the Republic of Ireland.

‘That must mean that our national Parliament takes back control of our laws, borders and money and that there are no new internal barriers created inside the United Kingdom.’

Ahead of her arrival, Mrs May said: ‘I look forward to hearing views from businesses on the border in Northern Ireland on our departure from the European Union.

‘I fully recognise 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.

‘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.

New Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab (pictured meeting Michel Barnier in Brussels today) must now get up to speech on the crunch talks and lead the negotiations 

‘I’ve also been clear we will not accept the imposition of any border down the Irish Sea and we will preserve the integrity of the UK’s internal market and Northern Ireland’s place within it.’

Tomorrow she will deliver a speech in Belfast focusing on how her Chequers Brexit blueprint will work and help safeguard peace in Northern Ireland.

The issue of the Irish border is one of the trickiest points in Brexit talks as the border will become the UK’s only direct land crossing with the EU after Brexit.

There are fears that any return to the hard border – including the checks and guard patrols – of the past could reignite the bloody sectarian violence which plagued the region for 30 years. 

Mrs May said she is committed to keeping a soft border, and her Chequers plan pits forward the idea of sticking to EU rules on the trade of goods – in part to avoid a hard border.

Bit her plans have been savaged by Brexiteers and coolly received by Europe – raising serous questions over if they will last the summer. 

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