On the British-Irish border, Brexit breeds fear and uncertainty

On Britain's only land frontier with a fellow EU state, the talk is about shopping for bargains as the Brexit crisis drives the pound down -- but worries for the future are never far away

Queuing is now the norm at this money changer in Northern Ireland since Britain's shock vote to leave the EU.

The pound, or sterling, is at historic lows -- and increasing numbers of Irish shoppers are crossing the border to snag some bargains.

Catherine, shopper from Dublin, said "Today I just happened to buy a large item, it was a PC that was priced at home at around 550 euros, and I got it today for 299 stirling. That's a rarity, that probably wouldn't happen too often but I was happy enough to come up for that."

Harry, shopper from Dublin, also said "It's starting to rise but I'd say, come Christmas, especially the drink, alcohol, I'd say there'd be a huge move up because it's way cheaper up here."

Newry lies just a few miles north of Britain's only land frontier with the European Union.

Around 4,500 people cross the border for work each day but, since the June vote, this shopping mall has recorded a welcome 10% boost in traffic from the South.

Cathal Austin, manager of The Quays Shopping Centre in Newry, said "We would have weekly customers coming across the border anyway but the frequency of their visits is probably increased and, I think, people are probably also coming from a little further afield."

But other retailers are suffering. Kellys Hardware is being hit with steeper costs on timber, pipes and machinery which it imports from the South.

And the company's worried about the future.Mark Kelly, financial controller for Kellys Hardware said "The fear for Brexit is what kind of border controls are there going to be? Are there going to be duties and tariffs imposed on a lot of the goods that are both coming in and going back out across the border?"

Customs controls on the 500-kilometre British-Irish border were abolished in 1993 -- helping cross-border trade, movement and friendships to flourish.

Today, little marks the border, except the change in colour of the road markings.

After decades of sectarian conflict, many fear that when the UK leaves the EU, the return of a hard border will undermine a hard-won peace.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:52 - GMT 06:52
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