Brexit: Kate Hoey says Ireland would have to pay for physical border


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PA

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The Irish border has become a key issue in Brexit negotiations

The Republic of Ireland would have to pay for a physical border with Northern Ireland if Britain leaves the EU with no deal, a Labour MP has said.

The EU has said “sufficient progress” has to be made on the Irish border before negotiations on a future relationship can begin.

Kate Hoey, a Brexit supporter originally from Northern Ireland, said there is no need for a physical border.

She criticised the Irish government’s approach to the issue.

“Why don’t the Irish government actually become more positive about this and start looking at solutions with their closest neighbour and partner,” she told BBC Radio 4.

“After all, we are a friend of the Republic of Ireland, the relations have never been as good and yet on this issue it seems like they’re more concerned with keeping the rest of the EU satisfied than actually looking at concrete, positive proposals.

“We’re not the ones who are going to be putting up the physical border.

“If it ends up with a no deal, we won’t be putting up the border, they’ll have to pay for it because it doesn’t need to happen.”

However, Fine Gael Senator Neale Richmond defended the Irish government’s stance: “We have been very positive, we have laid out from the outset how we would like things to go and how we’d want certainty.

“The British government have been very, very late and have continually changed their position.”

He added: “We haven’t made the decision for the United Kingdom to leave the EU – you’re making the decision, a decision that affects us far more than anyone else on the continent.”

Trump comparisons

Ms Hoey’s comments have been compared to Donald Trump talking about the border with Mexico.

Her party colleague, former secretary of state for Northern Ireland Lord Hain, said: “With her suggestion that Ireland will have to pay for any border, Kate Hoey seems to have been taking diplomacy lessons from Donald Trump.

“It really is astonishing how much damage Brexit is already doing to our country’s reputation. Even our closest friends, Ireland, are now becoming the target of unhinged attacks from hard Brexit cheerleaders.”

Cambridge University classicist Mary Beard tweeted:

Ms Hoey said both sides in the Brexit negotiations should look to Switzerland and Norway, which are outside the EU but have close trading relationships with it, for solutions to the Irish border issue.

“A lot of the technology, at the Swiss border and in Norway, is done actually away from the border – and of course the prime minister has said that she doesn’t want cameras at the border.”

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Reuters

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Former taoiseach (prime minister) Bertie Ahern said some trade could be monitored by technology, but it would not work for everything

Former taoiseach (prime minister) Bertie Ahern said that while it might be possible to check some cross-border trade without a physical border, there are some areas where that would not be possible.

“Our economy is relatively small. A huge amount of the trade is multinationals – it should be possible to do that by technology.

“But of course, when you come down to agriculture and smaller items, I don’t think technology would work.”

On Sunday, the UK’s international trade secretary said there can be no final decisions on the future of the Irish border until the UK and the EU have reached a trade agreement

Liam Fox also blamed the EU for Brexit delays.

The EU has given Prime Minister Theresa May until 4 December to come up with further proposals on issues including the border, the Brexit divorce bill and citizens’ rights, if European leaders are to agree to moving on to trade talks.



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