DUP shoot down Rees Mogg's border proposals
The Democratic Unionist Party has said it would not support any moves towards a hard-border in Northern Ireland, after comments by Jacob Rees-Mogg emerged in which he argued that Troubles-era border posts were "perfectly possible".
DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson said he disagreed with the need for Troubles-style border arrangements.
“We’re very clear that what we want is a free trade agreement between the UK and the European Union, and of course that would mean the free movement of people, and it would also mean facilities for the movement of goods across the border without the need for new infrastructure to be put in place." he said, adding that “The UK has made clear that whatever the outcome of these negotiations, they do not intend to put checkpoints on the border. That is a position which we support." he said.
“The first element agreed between the EU and the UK was the continuation of the common travel area between the United Kingdom and the Irish Republic."
“Therefore, even in a ‘no deal’ scenario, we believe that the common travel area would continue to operate, and we would not see the need for people to be stopped.”
The Conservative backbencher and promenant Brexiteer, Jacob Rees-Mogg, was taped in 2016 calling for border inspections to take place along the Northern Irish-Irish border at a public meeting.
“Ireland would not be a free for all. It would be perfectly possible to continue with historic arrangements to ensure that there wasn’t a great loophole in the way people can get into the UK, to leave us in as bad a position as we are already in,” he said.
“There would be our ability, as we had during the Troubles, to have people inspected. It’s not a border that everyone has to go through every day, but of course for security reasons during the Troubles, we kept a very close eye on the border, to try and stop gun-running and things like that.”
Ireland's Tánaiste, Simon Coveney, called the comments "ill informed", while Labour's Keir Starmer, said “This man [Rees-Mogg] knows nothing of Northern Ireland,”
"It’s hard to believe that a senior politician is so ill informed about Ireland + the politics of the #Brexit Irish border issue that he
could make comments like these. We have left “the troubles” behind us, through the sincere efforts of many, + we intend on keeping it that way." tweeted Coveney.
Back in December, the UK and EU both signed up for a backstop arrangement, in which both promised there would be no hard border between the UK and Ireland.
The EU has proposed that Northern Ireland remain within the Single Market and Customs Union if no agreement is reached, although the Democratic Unionist Party has also said they will veto any deal which sees Northern Ireland and the mainland UK have different arrangements with the EU.