Theresa May ‘playing with fire’ on Brexit’s impact on Ireland

SNP deputy leader says Tories are not taking seriously the risks from possible hard Irish Border

Angus Robertson, the SNP’s deputy leader said there was ‘very, very little consideration’ being given in English politics to the plight of Northern Ireland. Photograph: Reuters/Russell Cheyne

Angus Robertson, the SNP’s deputy leader said there was ‘very, very little consideration’ being given in English politics to the plight of Northern Ireland. Photograph: Reuters/Russell Cheyne

 

British leader Theresa May is “playing with fire” on Brexit’s impact on Ireland when she says that no deal with the EU is better than a bad deal, says Scottish National Party deputy leader Angus Robertson.

Speaking in his home constituency of Moray in northeast Scotland, the SNP’s leader in Westminster said that there was “very, very little consideration” being given in English politics to the plight of Northern Ireland and the possibility of a hard border with the UK’s exit from the European Union.

“We have a responsibility on these islands to try to find our way through what was a mandate south of the border [in England] to leave the EU but a vote to Remain in both Scotland and Northern Ireland,” the Scottish MP said after a meeting with his supporters in the town of Elgin.

“The Scottish government and my SNP colleagues have been working very hard to try and impress on the UK government to try and establish whether it is possible to get a differentiated outcome, one that minimises the potential for disruption and economic dislocation in Ireland and is able to maintain Scotland’s link within a wider European context.”

‘Inflexible’ thinking

Mr Robertson has clashed with the British prime minister repeatedly in Westminster, insisting that the people of Scotland should be given a choice on the country’s future and that the failure to give the Scottish people a say in the Brexit negotiations would make Scottish independence inevitable.

Scotland voted against independence at a referendum to leave the UK in 2014 but chose to remain in the EU, in contrast to the overall UK vote to Leave, in the Brexit referendum in June 2016

He described the British Tory government’s thinking as “very unimaginative and very inflexible” in recognising how different parts of the UK voted on Brexit.

Home nations

“When I hear senior UK government ministers saying blithely that no deal is better than a bad deal when that means WTO [World Trade Organisation] rules and a hard border in Ireland, I just think they are not taking the risks of such an outcome seriously,” he said.

Facing a resurgent Scottish Conservative Party in Thursday’s UK general election, Mr Robertson, an MP for Moray since 2001, believes there is a “tremendous missed opportunity” for the Conservatives to find a solution that “best suits different parts of the home nations.”

“I cannot understand why a unionist government which says it cares about the nations and regions of the UK clearly gives so little thought to the knock-on consequences of their hard-line attitudes,” he said.