Brexit decision on the EU spells uncertainty on many fronts for Northern Ireland

A teller counts ballot papers at the Titanic Exhibition Centre, Belfast, after polls closed in the EU referendum. Picture by Liam McBurney, Press Association 
Analysis by John Manley, Political Correspondent

IF your believe the pro-Brexit camp – and clearly many people do – the outcome of the EU referendum means the UK will be a more prosperous place now its sovereignty is reclaimed.

Aspects of what is an ill-defined vision based on a mix of old-fashioned patriotism and disillusionment with the establishment may well come to pass but initially the shock result and accompanying leap into the unknown spells a period of upheaval and volatility.

Initially this has been manifested in the value of sterling, which even before all the votes were counted was already plummeting.

Ahead of the holiday season, this is bad news for anyone travelling abroad or even into the south but in the broader historical context, this is perhaps the least of our worries.

Here in the north, concern will focus on the future of the border.

The Brexit camp was adamant throughout the campaign that the common travel area and the freedom of movement of goods and people across the border would be unaffected, which in the short-term may well be the case given that the UK's withdrawal won't be immediate.

In the long-term, however, nobody can say with any certainty what will happen and if the EU or the UK itself will choose to harden the border, whether to regulate trade or tighten security.

Like Northern Ireland, a majority of people in Scotland voted to maintain ties with Brussels, however now their wishes have been overridden by England and Wales's desire for a Brexit, a fresh push for independence is likely to materialise.

The referendum result is also worrying from a global perspective, as the institution which had brought stability and peace to Europe for several generations faces what is arguably its greatest ever challenge.

Britain's role in supporting and shaping the EU was seen as key, so its withdrawal will prompt significant change for the remaining 27 members if not signalling the unravelling of the pan-European entire project.

We live in interesting times.

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe now to get full access