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Belfast Shows the Price of Brexit

David Frum
 

By David Frum (Original source The Atlantic)

“BELFAST, Northern Ireland—If Monty Python ever produced an updated “What Has the EU Ever Done for Us?” sketch, Belfast would be as good a place as any to situate it.

If any place in the British Isles risks being thrust into an economic and political crisis by the impending Brexit, Belfast is that place.

Three weeks before the United Kingdom’s scheduled exit from the European Union, I took a guided tour of some of the scenes of the Troubles. The tour was led by a former IRA paramilitary, now working with an association of former prisoners partially subsidized by EU funds. A few hundred meters to the north, former Loyalist paramilitaries lead tours on their side of the defensive barrier that still separates predominantly Catholic from predominantly Protestant neighborhoods. The EU helps underwrite those tours, too. All told, about 230 million euros of EU funding will go to support the Northern Ireland peace process during the 2015–2020 budget cycle. The peace that has settled on Northern Ireland since 1998 remains a chilly one in the hearts of the former combatants. But peace it is.”

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