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Theresa May needs to understand concerns over post-Brexit border

Theresa May will have been encouraged by the EU's decision to allow Brexit negotiations to move on to phase two but she must realise that, despite agreement on phase one, the border remains a huge issue with major ramifications as this process moves forward.

And while she has secured the support of the DUP - a pro-Brexit party - at Westminster, she should be acutely aware that the majority of people in Northern Ireland voted to remain in the EU and are deeply alarmed at what the future holds.

It is against this backdrop that Theresa May invited questions from Irish News readers on Brexit this week, a prime ministerial initiative that is unprecedented in terms of newspapers in the north.

Despite the short time scale and the busy festive period, readers responded in significant numbers to this opportunity, producing carefully thought out questions that showed a strong understanding of the key issues and a firm desire to engage on a matter that will affect the lives of every person on this island.

It is clear from our readers that the border and any potential change to the free movement of people and goods, is of crucial concern.

Mrs May's answers offered the assurance that journeys `will continue to be seamless and there will be no border checks.'

The prime minister ruled out any kind of hard border but also insisted there would be no second referendum on the Brexit deal.

Of course, it remains to be seen what impact trade arrangements that are still to be negotiated will have on businesses, particularly those with a cross-border dimension. In that respect, detail and clarity are still in short supply.

Ultimately, many people in Northern Ireland will suspend judgment on what has been promised until the final deal is signed.

There is still much to be decided and at the very least, the British government should make sure the Brexit secretary makes a visit to the border to hear for himself the concerns of people who live and work there.

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