Internal borders within UK would be anathema: NIO minister

Ben Wallace questioned the need to leave the EU
Ben Wallace questioned the need to leave the EU

Internal borders within the UK would be anathema to unionists, an NIO minister has said.

Ben Wallace said Northern Ireland’s economy would be more vulnerable if the UK was to leave the EU.

A Northern Ireland Affairs Committee report examining the impact of Brexit on Northern Ireland was published on Thursday and raised the prospect of strengthened identity checks at the ports and airports of Great Britain.

Mr Wallace said: “I am not sure the unionist leaders in Northern Ireland would like the concept of internal borders in the UK, I would not like that as a unionist and I am not sure the DUP voters would.”

He said both sides agreed that the peace process was secure.

“We have relative peace in Northern Ireland because of the efforts of people in Northern Ireland and that is to be applauded.”

He questioned the need for change.

“People ask themselves what is it that is broken that needs fixing, that we take that risk?”

The Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers is a leading out campaigner. The committee was made of members supporting both sides of the argument.

Mr Wallace said: “It was a very professional and balanced report and it was clear that the report identified lots of benefits to being a member of the EU.

“It said if we were to leave we should try and replicate all those benefits.

“It likes the fact that we work closely with the Republic on security. It likes the fact that our industry gets support and it says we would have to try and replicate that if we were to leave.”