Brexit border policy ‘contradictory nonsense’

James Brokenshire said no hard border is a government priority
James Brokenshire said no hard border is a government priority

The Government’s dual ambition to maintain the common travel area between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland and to control the UK’s borders has been condemned as “contradictory nonsense” by a Labour MP.

Thousands of people travel back and forth over the Irish border for work every day.

But there has been speculation that Brexit could result in the return of a hard border as the 310-mile stretch between both jurisdictions becomes a frontier between the UK and the EU.

Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire told MPs that avoiding a return to a hard border will be a Brexit priority for the Government.

But Labour’s Graham Jones suggested the Government’s position on the Irish border and the wider issue of overall border control was inconsistent.

Responding to a question on the border from Craig Whittaker, the Tory MP for Calder Valley, Mr Brokenshire said: “The common travel area has served us well over many years and indeed that we were party to the common travel area before we joined the European Union.

“It is a priority that we do not see a return to the borders of the past.”

He also insisted the Government wants to see the “strengthening of the common travel area”.

But Mr Jones, the MP for Hyndburn, attacked the Government’s stance on the issue.

He said: “The secretary of state says he wants to take back control of our borders and particularly this border. At the same time he says he wants to keep the common travel area and the current arrangements.

“Isn’t that a contradictory nonsense and won’t it be the EU that decides in the end because it’s the Republic border, so what conversations have you had with the European Union on this matter?”