‘Have his cake and eat it’: Boriss approach to NI slammed by former minister

Northern Ireland: UK 'can't have protocol and executive' says MP

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The former Conservative MP condemned Boris Johnson for failing to acknowledge the issue presented by the Irish border.

Mr Stewart claimed the Prime Minister had dismissed the inevitable problems created by the Northern Ireland Protocol in his campaign for Brexit.

He said: “A border between Northern Ireland and Great Britain, of course, is a very, very strange thing to do in a single country and very offensive to unionists who very much feel that they should be a full part of the United Kingdom.

“A border between Northern Ireland and the Republic is a disaster in a very different way.”

Mr Stewart added: “The genius of the Good Friday Agreement rested on being a member of the European Union.

“It allowed different communities in Ireland to see themselves in completely different ways without having to choose.”

The former minister for international development explained Boris Johnson had failed to address the potential problems Brexit would create to the agreement in Ireland.

He said: “The problem with this is that if you wanted to get independent trade deals, with Australia for example, they were going to have to have borders.”

Mr Stewart continued: “Either you stay in the customs union and give up on these independent trade deals, or you go for the independent trade deals

“If you go for the independent trade deals you’ve got a big problem because you’ve got to put a border somewhere. 

“It was this fundamental truth that Boris denied all the way through his leadership campaign and all the way through the election.

“The biggest example that he could have his cake and eat it too was around this issue in Northern Ireland.”

Read more: Brits demand EU ‘get out’ of Northern Ireland – ‘No more talking!’

The UK’s departure from the EU has presented a unique problem for the country of Ireland as Northern Ireland is part of the UK but the Republic of Ireland remains a member of the EU.

Due to the differing position of the two parts of Ireland, checks on goods have become complicated as the Republic of Ireland is still a member of the EU’s single market. 

As part of the Prime Minister’s Brexit withdrawal agreement, it was established there would be checks on goods entering Northern Ireland from other areas of the UK.

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Irish politicians have highlighted this term of the agreement undermines the position of Northern Ireland within the UK by imposing barriers to trade.

An alternative measure to impose increased checks between Northern Ireland and the Republic has also been opposed.

The internal Irish border has been a significant point of historical tension and increased border control could risk exasperating this issue.

The Tory Government has continued discussions with the EU with hopes to mitigate the border controls currently in place.

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