The former first minister has rounded on the leader of the Irish Republic, claiming he is attempting to out-do Sinn Fein in his approach to the Irish post-Brexit border.
David Trimble accused taoiseach and Fine Gael party leader Leo Varadkar of “trying to break up the UK” and of “snarling at London” over the issue of Brexit – all in a bid to woo potential votes away from Sinn Fein.
He made his comments in a lengthy piece written for the latest edition of conservative magazine The Spectator, based in London.
In it, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate and Conservative peer said that Mr Varadkar is essentially threatening to “veto” the entire Brexit negotiations unless he is reassured about how issues surrounding the border will be dealt with – something which may well prevent trade talks from taking place.
He also said Mr Varadkar has essentially claimed that “if the border gates go back up again we will be back into the Troubles”.
The peer wrote that such an assertion “cannot go unchallenged”.
However, what truly would present a threat to the peace process, said Lord Trimble, would be for Northern Ireland to stay in the customs union and single market and for Great Britain to leave it – creating a de facto border in the Irish Sea.
Unionists have feared such an outcome since at least July, when The Times of London reported that it was privately being advocated at a top level of the Irish government.
Lord Trimble said the taoiseach has this week shown himself to have been “desperate” to prevent a new election, adding: “What Leo Varadkar is doing is trying to appeal to Sinn Fein voters.
“He hasn’t learned the lesson that some Irish nationals have painfully learned in Northern Ireland: that you can’t out-Sinn Fein Sinn Fein.
“All he is doing is validating its position. For its own reasons, the EU is egging him on.”
Headlined ‘The Irish government is dragging Brexit into dangerous territory’, Lord Trimble’s piece was published online on Wednesday.