Gregory Campbell: ‘A tragedy that May allowed hard border talk to gain traction’

A DUP MP has said it is a “tragedy” that Theresa May allowed talk of a hard border dividing Northern Ireland from the Republic to gain traction.

East Londonderry MP Gregory Campbell told the House of Commons that the notion of a hard border is a “practical, political, physical impossibility”, during Prime Minister’s Questions.

Gregory Campbell

Gregory Campbell

“The notion of a ‘hard border’ between Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland was a negotiating ploy by the European Union,” Mr Campbell said.

“It is a tragedy that the Prime Minister permitted this ‘hard border’ narrative to gain traction. The border couldn’t be hermetically secured during the Troubles when there was over twenty thousand soldiers based in Northern Ireland. It would be physically impossible to have a hard border today even if anyone wanted to do it.”

He continued: “There is no one to build this so-called ‘hard border’. The Irish government, British government and the European Union have all clearly committed that they won’t impose one.

“Exactly one year ago, we told the Prime Minister not to sign up to the Joint Report containing a commitment to introduce backstop arrangements, which could create barriers between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK. The Prime Minister proceeded and despite paragraph 50 being included at our insistence – it is not included in the Withdrawal Agreement.”

He added: “As the Attorney General’s legal advice confirms, the backstop would be ‘a permanent arrangement’ and will ‘endure indefinitely’ yet the need for it is based on an entirely false premise.

“The Prime Minister needs to listen to voices on all sides of the House and bin the backstop.”