Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) leader Arlene Foster has slammed pro-Brussels campaigners like Tony Blair and John Major for “using” Northern Ireland politically, as well as those propagating “myths” about a hard border after Brexit.
The leading Unionist, who survived an IRA bombing as a child, also criticised the Irish Republic’s government for being “aggressive” over Brexit and said the “only people stirring up the myths of border checkpoints are those who are committed to unpicking the Union”.
On the interventions of pro-European Union (EU) former Prime Ministers, she told a Policy Exchange conference in London on Monday: “I do think it is quite disgraceful that they used Northern Ireland in that way, because they know that’s not the case.
“One of the most bizarre pieces around the referendum in Northern Ireland was when the Remain campaign sent Tony Blair and John Major to Londonderry to speak in favour of remaining in the European Union.
“If they thought that those two individuals were going to shift people to vote Remain – I thought it was quite bizarre. It is wrong for people like John Major, like Tony Blair to do all of that – very wrong.”
On the issue of the Irish border, she appeared to agree with some of the arguments of leading Brexiteer Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg, who has said the likelihood of a ‘hard border’ is being talked up to keep the UK tied to the EU.
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She added: “As a unionist, I see no logic or rationale for a hard border being created between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. The only people stirring up the myths of border checkpoints are those who are committed to unpicking the Union.
“They seek to use such imagery to advance and build support for their long-term political objective.”
Mrs. Foster also insisted Theresa May’s proposed “backstop” option of extending membership of the Customs Union, to allow for an alternative for the Irish border to be found, must be time-limited.
She concluded: “We voted in the referendum as one nation. We must implement that decision and leave as one nation. Again, Northern Ireland is a central element to that debate.
“But unionists, throughout the country – those who voted remain and leave – accept that we must exit the EU in a way that causes no damage to the economic and constitutional integrity of the United Kingdom.
“In particular, the Prime Minister has been categorical on this matter. We will NOT support any Withdrawal Agreement that creates, through a legal protocol, a new regulatory border down the Irish Sea that acts as an impediment to Northern Ireland businesses trading with Great Britain or Great Britain businesses trading into Northern Ireland.”
Ireland Makes Common Market ‘Warning’ as May Prepares New Brexit Fudge https://t.co/GAdEXQXh2C
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