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Academic talks Brexit and Northern Ireland on Question Time

A “significant re-think” of the union in Northern Ireland shouldn’t prevent efforts to make the protocol agreed as part of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU work as effectively as possible, according to a King’s College London academic.

Anand Menon
Professor Anand Menon, director of the UK in a Changing Europe.

Appearing on the BBC’s Question Time, Professor Anand Menon said that the public had to accept the fact that the Brexit process had changed perceptions across the Irish Sea but he added that it shouldn’t prevent efforts to make the Northern Ireland protocol work “as effectively as it can”.

Prof Menon, director of the UK in a Changing Europe, said: “We have to accept the fact that the Brexit process has led to a significant re-think of the UK union, not just in Northern Ireland, you see the same process happening in Scotland. That just seems to be the reality at the moment.

“But for me, the priority at the moment is, yes, obviously people should plan because we’re living in a very uncertain time where public opinion seems to be very, very volatile but the priority surely at the moment is to make the [Northern Ireland] protocol work.”

Prof Menon also addressed questions on the introduction of infrastructure at the ‘border’ between Northern Ireland and the UK, and the difficulties experienced with getting goods across the Irish Sea.

Drawing its virtual audience from Northern Ireland, the episode focussed on a range of issues facing the country, including the flow of trade post-Brexit, the ‘border’ in the Irish Sea, and the need for checks on goods travelling from Great Britain.

Joining Prof Menon, from the Department of European and International Studies at King’s, was Brandon Lewis, secretary of state for Northern Ireland; Louise Haigh, shadow secretary of state for Northern Ireland; Arlene Foster, first minister of Northern Ireland, and Michelle O’Neil, deputy first minister of Northern Ireland.

The episode aired on 21 January and is available on the BBC iPlayer.

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Anand  Menon

Anand Menon

Professor of European Politics and Foreign Affairs