MP says Ireland would have to pay for hard border without Brexit deal

Labour’s Kate Hoey claims on border: ‘they’ll have to pay for it’

Kate Hoey during the  Brexit campaignin June, 2016. Photograph: Jeff Spicer/Getty

Kate Hoey during the Brexit campaignin June, 2016. Photograph: Jeff Spicer/Getty


A Brexit-backing MP has said Ireland will have to pay if it wants to erect a physical border with Northern Ireland if Britain leaves the European Union with no deal.

Labour’s Kate Hoey claimed “we won’t be putting up the border” to govern EU-UK business through Northern Ireland, even if Britain leaves without agreeing new trade rules with Brussels.

And her remark that “they’ll have to pay for it” drew immediate comparisons with the United States president Donal Trump, who has pledged to build a wall on the border with Mexico, which he claims will also pay for it to be built.

Ms Hoey told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We’re not the ones who are going to be putting up the physical border.

“If it ends up with a no deal, we won’t be putting up the border — they’ll have to pay for it, because it doesn’t need to happen.”

Reacting to the MP’s comments, Cambridge University classicist Mary Beard tweeted: “When Kate Hoey on BBCr4today talks about the Irish having to pay for putting up the border between N and S Ireland if there is to be one, she sounds to me dangerously like Mr Trump and Mexico.”

The row over how to maintain a “soft” border has become a key sticking point in Brexit negotiations because the British government has committed to leaving the single market and customs union, which allow for frictionless trade among members.

British prime Minister Theresa May has just a week to meet a European deadline to make progress on the issue, along with the divorce bill and citizens’ rights, if she wants EU leaders to agree at the European Council summit on December 14th-15th to move on to trade talks.

Ms Hoey said both sides should look to Switzerland and Norway, which are outside the EU but have close trade relationships with it, for solutions to the Irish border issue.

She said: “A lot of the technology, at the Swiss border and in Norway, is done actually away from the border — and of course the prime minister has said that she doesn’t want cameras at the border.

“There are ways of doing this... why don’t the Irish government actually become more positive about this and start looking at solutions with their closest neighbour and closest partner? After all, we are a friend of the Republic of Ireland, the relations have never been as good.

“And yet on this issue it seems like they are more concerned to keep the rest of the EU satisfied than actually looking at concrete positive proposals.”

Ms Hoey also claimed Ireland would look to quit the EU once it saw Britain making a success of Brexit.

“We joined the EU together, you joined when we joined, and I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if we leave and when we’re very successful that you don’t start looking as well,” she said.