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Thursday 17th
posted by Morning Star in Editorial

IT goes without saying that the Morning Star would far prefer negotiations over Britain’s exit from the European Union to be led by Jeremy Corbyn and his team.

But until Labour replaces the Tories in government that responsibility lies with Theresa May, David Davis and company.

Their track record is one of delay and failure to prepare properly or explain the government’s line of march, leading the usual suspects in all parties and in the media to conclude that leaving the EU is too complicated to carry through.

A minority of this Greek chorus demands that Parliament simply disregard the referendum result while the Liberal Democrats, backed by Blairites and nationalist parties, favour EU custom and practice of rerunning polls until they get the required result or propose so-called “soft Brexit.”

No-one had spotted this exotic animal — or its unattractive “hard Brexit” twin — before the referendum.

It was conjured up by Remain camp leaders after the vote, suggesting that Britain could leave the EU but stay within the internal market or customs union, albeit that this would require continued submission to the European Court of Justice and acceptance that this country could not negotiate trade deals with non-EU states.

“Soft Brexit” would represent contempt for democracy just as surely as European Commission insistence that earlier popular verdicts delivered in Ireland, Greece, France and the Netherlands be disregarded.

Politicians in this country and throughout the EU have to accept that the UK electorate voted to leave the EU and respect this democratic choice.

Prime Minister May put forward proposals yesterday to deal with the ramifications of the referendum and future links between the UK and the EU, especially regarding intra-Irish relations.

Virtually all political representatives in Britain and Ireland have spoken out against imposition of a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic, not least because of the UK-Irish common travel area that has existed for almost a century.

Given goodwill, it is not beyond the wit of politicians and civil servants to devise a means of ensuring problem-free trade between the two administrations on the island of Ireland, but there is a fly in the ointment.

Sinn Fein Northern Ireland Assembly leader Michelle O’Neill stresses that, irrespective of British government desires to avoid “any kind of hard border or technology put in place, it will not be within their gift to deliver that.

“It will be the other European member states who clearly think and believe we need to see customs controls.”

That is it in a nutshell. Irrespective of what governments in Dublin and London or the people of Ireland and Britain may want, others in the EU will disregard these views to impose their own.

Such unsubtle pressure is surely intended to encourage British MPs unreconciled to the referendum result to build fresh momentum to direct Britain away from leaving the EU in favour of European Economic Area membership which would recognise EU authority.

Higher levels of internal trade and economic cooperation across an increasingly notional border will doubtless revive the question of a reunified Ireland, which must be a matter for the people of the island to decide.

But the current inability of the Dublin government to have its preference to avoid a hard border reflected in policy laid down from Brussels broadcasts loudly an EU disregard for popular sovereignty and democracy.

That issue too merits a far wider debate.