The Irish border has proved to be a major obstacle in progressing Brexit talks, with politicians in EU-member Ireland seeking assurances there will be no return to a ‘hard’ border with Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom.
Dublin’s effective veto over a Brexit ‘divorce’ package has meant some of the loudest cheerleaders for quitting the European Union have had to consider how people feel on the other side of the Irish sea.
But other people’s feelings don’t seem to be their strong suit, as critics have seized on some Brexiteers for being dismissive of their concerns or not really grasping basic details.
1. Bernard Jenkin: Thinks two former Irish leaders were “prime ministers of Northern Ireland”.
Appearing on Sky News, the Conservative MP suggested ex-Irish leaders were more amenable over the border issue than the present Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar.
He said: “If you listen to Bertie Ahern, if you listen to Enda Kelly – these are two former Taoiseachs, Prime Ministers of Northern Ireland.
“They haven’t quite played ball like the present Irish Prime Minister.”
All you need know @bernardjenkin "enda kelly" Teeshock of northern Ireland #Brexit @SkyNews pic.twitter.com/A0HQ7jmRiQ
The former Fine Gael leader is actually called Enda Kenny, and Northern Ireland is not led by a Taoiseach. Social media was swift to point out the errors.
1. The man's name is Enda Kenny, not Enda Kelly. 2. Northern Ireland does not have a Taoiseach because it is part of the UK. The Republic of Ireland has a Taoiseach. A simple Wikipedia search would have cleared up both questions @SkyNews https://t.co/FVZHLjjsZe
December 4, 2017
2. Iain Duncan Smith: Calls concerns over the border “this Irish stuff” and overplays Irish elections.
On the BBC, the ex-Conservative leader stated “this Irish stuff was not at this state some months ago”, suggesting Brexit talks had stalled because it would play well in Irish elections.
He said: “This Irish stuff was not at this state some months ago, now it’s suddenly become an issue because the Irish – for political reasons internally, presidential elections, disputes between two elements of the same party – they suddenly laid this on.
“And the EU, instead of saying to them, pull back for a second, let’s deal with this when we get to the trade arrangements, which would be logical sense, has actually backed them in this process.”
IDS seems confused about what the President does (“a largely ceremonial role”), when there are elections (next year) and where “disputes” may lie (he seems actually to be referring to two parties).
He also neglects Sir John Major, one of Duncan Smith’s predecessors as Tory leader, warning repeatedly before the vote that Brexit could mean border control is introduced between Northern Ireland and the Republic.
Dear Iain Duncan Smith, Please buy a history book. "This Irish stuff" has been an issue since 1167. pic.twitter.com/GBOnEM9MuJ
Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Just heard Iain Duncan Smith on @Channel4News saying Ireland is taking a hard line on the border because "there's a presidential election coming up".
November 28, 2017
3. Owen Paterson: Trade between Ireland and Northern Ireland is “small”.
The former Northern Ireland Secretary of State suggested the issue was “small” on the BBC’s Sunday Politics.
“The border has a very small amount of trade. Only five per cent is across the border,” he said.
“It is really very irresponsible of politicians to make a statement like that, saying they are going to force and blackmail the UK into giving a special status for Northern Ireland outside the rest of the UK.
“It would be very easy to license the tankers that cross the border every day as authorised economic operators.
“They would be recognised and allowed to pass, and all invoices would be done electronically.
“It really is just a very small problem that can be resolved if there is a will.”
"Not a single person has ever said the border presents a problem" @OwenPaterson on his previous vists to Northern Ireland #bbcsp pic.twitter.com/uMZxXQ0uEL — BBC Daily Politics and Sunday Politics (@daily_politics) November 26, 2017
Speaking on @BBCr4today Climate denier, Owen Paterson, revealed he knows as much about the Irish border question as he does climate science, saying trade is a "small issue" between UK and Ireland. Obviously never been to Dublin port. Amazing he was Northern Ireland Secretary too.
December 4, 2017
The BBC’s Reality Check begged to differ, contending: “The Republic of Ireland is a much more important destination for exports from Northern Ireland than Mr Paterson’s figures suggest.”
BBC News - Reality Check: How much trade is there between the UK and Ireland? https://t.co/kHSBZFmGmu
4. John Redwood: The Irish border is not an issue that “really matters”.
The Conservative MP tweeted how phase one of the UK-EU talks - which have to be completed before trashing out a trade deal, Brussels insists - is not what “really matters”.
To be clear, phase one includes the multi-billion pound ‘divorce’ bill, EU citizens’ rights post-Brexit and the Irish border.
Its a pity that so far the EU haven’t been prepared to talk to us about anything that really matters such as our future trading relationship
Seriously Mr Redwood what is wrong with you. Irish border, eu and uk citizens rights are important. You are a donkey with a blue rosette.
5. Nadine Dorries: Re-imaging peace talks.
As the Democratic Unionist Party blocked Theresa May’s deal to solve the border row, Tory MP Nadine Dorries praised Ulster unionists for repeating the same tactics they deployed over the Good Friday Agreement.
Total respect for the DUP. Hardened negotiators. After Good Friday/peace in NI and Irish politics in general - we are witnessing a master class in how it’s done. #Respect https://t.co/nIEhAycW6j
December 5, 2017
Plenty of people pointed out that she may have been mis-reading history and the DUP didn’t actually back it.
Funny, don’t remember them during the 1998 talks, bar the night Paisley et al came and bawled”No Surrender” at Carson’s statue
You realise they walked out of GFA talks? And never signed up to it? Saying no over and over and over and over and over again (irish language act, woman reproductive rights, gay marriage and now sensible economic policy) is not a negotiation style, it's belligerence
December 5, 2017