DUP Condemns Blair, Major for ‘Playing on Fears’ over Irish Border

DERRY, NORTHERN IRELAND - JUNE 09: Sir John Major speaks as he and Tony Blair make a joint EU appeal on June 9, 2016 in Derry, Northern Ireland. Former British Prime Ministers Sir John Major and Tony Blair travelled to Derry City in Northern Ireland warning that voting to leave …
eff J Mitchell-WPA Pool/Getty

Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) MP Gregory Campbell has accused arch remainers John Major and Tony Blair of “playing on the fears” of people living along the Irish border as they campaign to stop the UK making a clean break of the EU.

Mr Campbell made the comments after Mr Blair said there would be “devastating” consequences for Northern Ireland if the UK left the EU without a deal, while Mr Major said he fears a return to sectarian violence.

“Two former Prime Ministers should be more responsible in their language,” Mr Campbell told the Belfast Telegraph on Monday.

“This talk of violence and hard borders is careless in the extreme.

“They are playing on the fears of genuine people who live on the border.”

Establishment news network Sky aired an interview on Sunday, where Blair said that the UK making a clean break the bloc on March 29th without a deal — and without having to pay the £39 billion divorce bill or remaining in regulatory alignment for a further near-two years during the transition period — would “potentially be devastating” for the peace process in Northern Ireland.

“You would have a hard border, a very hard border.

“A no-deal Brexit means a really hard border between north and south in Ireland. It’s contrary to the Good Friday Agreement and it will cause an enormous fissure within the United Kingdom,” the former Labour leader said.

Also on Sunday, The Times published an interview of fellow Remainer and former Tory Prime Minister John Major where he alleged that violence would return if the whole of the UK left the Customs Union without a trade deal in place, evoking memories of IRA terror victims and implying Brexiteers would be to blame if people died as a result of a new era of the Troubles.

“I remember people dying. I saw images of what happened after those bombings that I hope never to see again…

“If we end up with a hard border in Northern Ireland it would be a betrayal of the 3,500 people who were killed and those who may well be killed if further violence was to start.”

The DUP’s Mr Campbell called these comments “scaremongering,” saying, “It looks to me that Blair and Major should dial down the rhetoric and stop talking a lot of hot air.”

Members of the unionist party have repeatedly stated that there would be no need for a hard border or customs infrastructure in the event of a no-deal. DUP leader Arlene Foster pointed out in January that there had never been a hard customs border, with infrastructure during the IRA terrorist campaign being for purely security reasons, and advocated for technological solutions as the way forward for customs checks.

The DUP also maintained that Brussels was using the Irish border issue as a means to eventually cut off the country from the rest of the UK.

“The IRA terrorist campaign was designed to remove Northern Ireland from the United Kingdom. We resisted that and will resist any deal with Brussels which is designed to do the same thing,” DUP Brexit spokesman Sammy Wilson said in November.

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