UK citizens travelling from Northern Ireland to the rest of the UK could be subjected to border control checks in the event of a Brexit, the British prime minister has suggested.
David Cameron said the checks would be an alternative option to introducing hard borders between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland if the UK votes to leave the EU.
The British government has previously warned that a current free movement agreement between the two nations would be under threat.
Speaking during prime minister’s questions, Mr Cameron said: “If we vote to stay in we know what the situation is. We know that the common travel area works, we know it can continue and everyone can have confidence in that.
“If we were to leave and, as the leave campaigners want to make a big issue about our borders, then you’ve got a land border between [the UK] outside the European Union and the Republic of Ireland inside the European Union.”
Mr Cameron said: "Therefore you can only either have new border controls between the Republic and Northern Ireland or, which I would regret hugely, you'd have to have some sort of checks on people as they left Belfast or other parts of Northern Ireland to come to the rest of the United Kingdom.
“Now we can avoid these risks, there are so many risks here. Risks to our children’s jobs, risks to our economic future, risks to our borders, risks to the unity of the United Kingdom, I say avoid the risks and vote remain next Thursday.”
His warning came after SDLP MP for Belfast South Dr Alasdair McDonnell insisted that a return to customs and passport control checks between Northern Ireland and the Republic would be a “critical economic issue for Northern Ireland’s voters in eight days’ time”.