Brexit

Mary McAleese: Brexit like 'pulling a tooth with 10,000 roots'

Former president Mary McAleese has expressed concerns about the impact of Brexit. File picture

BREXIT is like "pulling a tooth with 10,000 roots", former president Mary McAleese has said.

In an interview with RTÉ, the north Belfast-born legal expert expressed concerns about possible border controls after the UK leaves the European Union in March 2019.

"Brexit is like pulling a tooth with 10,000 roots and I don't think people have got their heads fully around what's lying at the end of all those roots," she said.

"There will be pain, and part of the pain will be possibly the imposition of controls in a place where we have become so delighted to no longer have such controls."

Mrs McAleese said while she did not think Brexit would spark a return to violence, she feared the border could become a "flashpoint".

"With the return of immigration controls, with the return of customs, with the return of economic controls, my big worry is that the border will become once again a flashpoint for people who might regard violence as still, in their view, a useful phenomenon," she said.

She questioned how an open border could be maintained post-Brexit and suggested that "sooner or later pressure will come on" to introduce ID cards.

Meanwhile, a leading pro-Brexit group has stepped up its campaign for two Tory cabinet ministers to be deselected - in a possible blow to hopes of a 'soft' exit from the EU.

Chancellor Philip Hammond and home secretary Amber Rudd have been targeted by the Leave.EU campaign, co-founded by UKIP donor Arron Banks.

The campaign has accused Ms Rudd and Mr Hammond of being "Brexit saboteurs".

Following a fund-raising campaign, Leave.EU announced it is now sending letters to voters in the pair's constituencies, encouraging them to join their local Conservative associations and "bring a vote of no confidence against their sitting Tory MP".

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