Hillary Clinton has made a heartfelt intervention in the Brexit debate, saying reinstating the border with Northern Ireland would be an “enormous setback”.
As the border continues to be a point of contention in Brexit talks, Clinton wrote in The Guardian that border controls or infrastructure would be a return to the “bad old days”, once again dividing communities.
Clinton said she continues to believe in the value of the EU and a “Europe that is whole, free and at peace”, and said regardless of the outcome of Brexit the UK Government must not allow it to “undermine the peace that people voted, fought and even died for”.
Her comments were echoed by Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn, who on the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday agreement also spoke out against the return of a hard border.
He described the pact as a “defining moment in Irish history” and said efforts must be redoubled to restore the power-sharing assembling in Northern Ireland, which collapsed last year, leaving it without a working government.
“There must be no return to a hard border between north and south, and no return to the horrors of The Troubles. All of us on both sides of the Irish Sea have a responsibility to maintain hope for the future,” he said.
In her column, the former US presidential candidate and secretary of state pleaded for the Good Friday agreement to be “protected” in the face of Brexit uncertainties.
“There are some who argue that the agreement has outlived its usefulness. They are wrong,” Clinton wrote on Tuesday.
“Countless people in Northern Ireland are alive today, rather than in early graves, because of it. The last thing we can afford to do is become complacent, or delude ourselves into thinking our work is finished.”
As the world marked the anniversary of the deal that helped end decades of conflict and violence, Clinton remembered the “extraordinary actions of ordinary” men and women who put aside bitter rivalries.
Clinton also recalled sharing tea with local women in a make-shift safe-house in a Northern Ireland fish and chip shop – she accompanied her husband, Bill, on a trip there during his time as US president in 1995.
The Good Friday agreement - signed by British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his Irish counterpart Bertie Ahern in Belfast - was a power-sharing agreement that brought together waring sides in a sectarian conflict which had, by the mid 1990s, claimed more than 3,500 lives.