Brexit architect Nigel Farage has said that Ireland’s prime minister, Leo Varadkar, is playing “the Brussels game of threatening the British” over the Irish border.
“In years to come, there may need to be some checks but they don’t need to be done at a hard border,” Mr Farage told Republic of Ireland broadcaster RTÉ on Monday, after taoiseach Leo Varadkar claimed on the weekend that a Brexit where the UK left the EU without a deal would result in a possible police or army presence on the border between the Republic and Northern Ireland.
“The second issue, of course, is tariffs if we don’t leave with a free trade deal,” Mr Farage continued.
“I have to say, I find it remarkable that the taoiseach is not pushing for a free trade deal.”
Addressing the Irish prime minister making doomsday threats over a World Trade Organization (WTO) exit for the UK in the manner of Brussels bureaucrats, the MEP said, “All he seems to want to do is play the Brussels game of threatening the British.”
Pro-EU activists have been criticised for using the Irish backstop border issue to stoke unwarranted fears of a return to the era of the Troubles and terror attacks by the IRA.
On Sunday, leader of Sinn Féin Mary Lou McDonald led protesters at a demonstration on the border, where activists lined up a fake wall between the Republic and Northern Ireland with ‘armed soldiers’ separating the two nations.
Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) MP Nigel Dodds called the stunt “irresponsible,” adding that “Such amateur dramatics do nothing to make progress and only play on people’s fears. It’s complete and utter nonsense.”
The DUP and Eurosceptic Tories have argued that the European Union and the Republic of Ireland were exploiting the border issue, using it as leverage in Brexit negotiations, and there would be no need for a ‘hard’ customs border between the Irelands as goods with differences in Value-Added Tax (VAT) and excise duties are crossing the border daily, the border currently maintained without armed military intervention.
Labour Brexiteer and Ulster native Kate Hoey MP remarked in December on the threat imposing EU customs rules on Northern Ireland post-Brexit would have to the Union, saying, “We didn’t spend 30 years in Northern Ireland stopping IRA terrorists killing soldiers, police, and civilians in order to get a United Ireland, [only] to allow a few jumped-up EU bureaucrats and a complicit prime minister to try and do the same thing by the back door.”
DUP party Brexit spokesman Sammy Wilson warned his country’s neighbour to the south on Monday that once the EU was done using the Republic of Ireland in its political machinations, Brussels will “toss aside, damage,” and “abandon” the country when “they have been used.”
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