A hard Brexit will steal the hardwon but fragile peace ushered in by the Good Friday Agreement which has transformed life in Northern Ireland over two decades.

By the way, 71 per cent of Northern Irish voters said ‘Yes’ to this 1998 agreement in their referendum – an overwhelming democratic mandate for change that was going to be anything but easy.

For those tempted to discount real progress since 1998, I’d suggest you actually talk to some of the ordinary people there. I do, and have done for the past 24 years in my role as a writer and as a clergywoman.

One person I talk to is the Reverend Dr Gary Mason, OBE, who runs the Belfast-based Rethinking Conflict.

Only last week he shared deep concerns about the damage a hard border will do, saying Brexit is driving a wedge between nationalism and unionism.

He says everyone in Northern Ireland wants an open border and a backstop is a disaster in any form and the more ‘secure’ the border, the more paramilitaries on both sides it will recruit.

Esther McVey, as a potential Conservative Party leader, will you continue to support a peacedestructive ‘WTO Brexit’ when your job includes understanding and acting in the best interests of the whole of the UK and the Province of Northern Ireland?

And if so, why not begin now in showing that concern and leadership?

Kathleen Loughlin Wilmslow