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Brexiteers show alarming ignorance about Irish border issues

It is clear from pronouncements both before and since the Brexit referendum that those most fervent about leaving the EU have precious little knowledge or insight into the issues surrounding the Irish border.

The reality is that those driving the Leave campaign in Britain had virtually zero interest in the implications for the island of Ireland in terms of cross border trade and the free movement of people.

Scant regard was paid to the likely customs arrangements that would be in place once the UK left the single market and customs union.

The key focus was all about getting out of Europe, taking control of laws and borders and addressing the issue of immigration.

In Northern Ireland, people voted decisively in favour of staying in the EU, as did Scotland, but the Leave campaign won the day in England and Wales, effectively plunging all of us into the unknown.

It was a shock result and we are still unclear as to what sort of Brexit we will ultimately see in March next year.

Theresa May has struggled to exert her authority over a deeply divided Tory party and in her efforts to set a sensible and sustainable way forward in negotiations with the EU.

She is constantly having to look over her shoulder at extreme Brexiteers such as Jacob Rees-Mogg, who appears to wield considerable influence from his position on the backbenches.

At the weekend, a video emerged of the MP talking about the border during a discussion at the University of Sussex in April 2016.

In a video clip, Mr Rees-Mogg says the UK could continue with 'historic arrangements' to avoid illegal travel into the north.

''There would be our ability, as we had during the Troubles, to have people inspected,'' he said.

This alarming comment underlines the sort of ill-informed nonsense that leading Brexit proponents were peddling ahead of the referendum.

Few will have confidence that Eurosceptic Tories are any better informed now or have any real interest in the serious implications of a hard border between north and south.

Former Ukip leader Nigel Farage also showed a complete lack of understanding of this issue in an interview with The Times newspaper on Saturday in which he said that the EU's chief negotiator Michel Barnier ''would like the IRA to become active again'' and had created the idea of a ''hard border and soldiers with rifles.''

This is a ludicrous and frankly reckless suggestion which says more about Mr Farage.

The problem for the Brexiteers is that they failed to grasp the significance of the border ahead of the referendum and are now seeing it become a major stumbling block to the type of post-EU Britain they want to see.

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