Anthony Soares is the acting director at the Centre for Cross Border Studies.

AS MPs begin the Easter recess in the wake of the Brexit can being kicked once more down the most twisted of roads, it’s essential that politicians should take this time to reacquaint themselves with an agreement that binds us all together. And it’s not the withdrawal agreement.

It was in many ways telling that on the very day the European Council was meeting to consider Theresa May’s latest request for an extension to the Article 50 negotiations, the European Parliament’s chief representative on Brexit, Guy Verhofstadt, tweeted to ask EU leaders “to remember what we are all trying to safeguard today”.

April 10, 2019, also marked the 21st anniversary of the Belfast or Good Friday Agreement.

READ MORE: These are the 23 funniest tweets about the political black hole that is Brexit

Sadly, and despite the endless arguments over a “hard” border on the island of Ireland and the desirability or not of the “backstop” in the withdrawal agreement, it seems many remain oblivious to the full implications of the commitments made in 1998 when the governments of the United Kingdom and Ireland and many political parties in Northern Ireland (but not the Democratic Unionist Party) signed off on a document that was meant to offer “a truly historic opportunity for a new beginning”.

The National:

That new beginning included new power-sharing institutions in Northern Ireland, new institutions to support co-operation between Northern Ireland and Ireland (the North-South dimension), and new structures encompassing the island of Ireland and Great Britain “to promote the harmonious and mutually beneficial development of the totality of relationships among the peoples of these islands”.

It also brought about an end to a tragically painful conflict that would allow for the dismantling of the physically and psychologically oppressive security presence at the border between the two jurisdictions on the island of Ireland.

The removal of security infrastructure following the Good Friday Agreement would finally give the border its current invisibility, which had already been made a possibility with the establishment of the EU’s single market and the redundancy of customs posts.

READ MORE: Why Nigel Farage is a Westminster-made monster ... and Tories should be afraid

The border’s invisibility nourishes what is often seen as the constructive ambiguities contained within the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement, which includes the right of those in Northern Ireland to identify themselves as either Irish or British, or both.

If politicians read the Good Friday Agreement they would then begin to truly understand how the red lines laid down by the UK Government as it went into the Brexit negotiations are incompatible with the oft repeated statement that nothing in the UK’s withdrawal from the EU will undermine the Good Friday Agreement in all of its parts.

The agreement is about “the totality of relationships among the peoples of these islands”.

If Brexit means undermining the relations among any of these peoples, then surely it is undermining one or other of the parts of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement that belongs not just to Northern Ireland or Ireland, but to all the nations across these islands.

A continued failure by our politicians to understand the full import of the 1998 agreement and how Brexit will affect it can only serve to exacerbate divisions in Northern Ireland, not least as its place within the union of the United Kingdom becomes increasingly contested.

The National:

By minimising – if not deliberately ignoring – the fact that Northern Ireland voted to remain in the EU in the 2016 referendum in which it campaigned to leave, and by insisting it wants a Brexit that treats Northern Ireland no differently than the rest of the UK while simultaneously saying it doesn’t want a “hard border” with the Republic of Ireland, the DUP has done much to reinvigorate the debate about Northern Ireland’s future constitutional status.

The DUP’s insistence that Northern Ireland’s Brexit must be the same as the Brexit enjoyed by/imposed upon the rest of the UK, and therefore its repeated rejection of the withdrawal agreement because of the “backstop”, not only ignores the fact that Northern Ireland is already different from other parts of the UK but also goes against the position of many others in the region who see the backstop as an essential safeguard to the ongoing work of peace and reconciliation.

READ MORE: Holyrood's Brexit boost budget from Westminster broken down

The crucial issue that must be taken on board when politicians return to Westminster is that Brexit’s effect on the nature of the border on the island of Ireland cannot be measured simply in terms of whether we see the erection of customs posts and the imposition of tariffs on goods crossing from one side to the other.

While it may be possible to eventually come up with “alternative arrangements” that would avoid stopping lorries crossing the border, unless Brexit allows us to have the same relations with the border and with each other as we do now, then a dangerous unravelling of what has been achieved to date will ensue.

Politicians may be familiar with the potential costs of imposing tariffs on goods if the UK leaves the EU without a deal, but they may be painfully ignorant of the value of relations between people on these islands – there is no tariff regime for good relations.