EU referendum: Chancellor says NI border checks ‘inevitable’ if UK leaves EU

Posted By: June 06, 2016

BBC NI. Monday, June 6, 2016

The Chancellor, George Osborne, has said more stringent checks on the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic are inevitable, should the UK leave the EU.

M.r Osborne is in Northern Ireland campaigning for a ‘Remain’ vote in the EU referendum.

He spoke to the BBC’s Good Morning Ulster programme on Monday.

He asked: “If we quit the EU, what is that border going to look like?”

“Suddenly the Republic is part of the EU, it’s no longer the border between the UK and the Republic of Ireland, it’s the border between the UK and the European Union,” he said.

“The European Union charges a tax, a tariff on things coming into it, which we don’t pay at the minute because we’re in the EU.

“So who’s going to check what those goods are?”

He said there would be routine checks between Northern Ireland and the Republic, if it became a frontier between the UK and the EU.

“Here in this part of the UK particularly, it (the EU) helps with our land border.

“You can’t say ‘we want to have control of our borders’, as they keep claiming, but then say, ‘but it’s not going to have any effect on the borders’. It’s a nonsensical claim by Leave campaigners.”

Speaking to Good Morning Ulster, DUP MLA Sammy Wilson said the Chancellor’s comments did not stand up to scrutiny.

He said: “There’s a land border between Norway and Sweden and you don’t have those kind of checks and those border posts.

“There’s a land border between France and Switzerland and you don’t have sealing of the border, so why would Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland be any different?”

The Secretary Of State Theresa Villiers previously played down the possibility of radical changes, noting that the current free travel arrangements within the island of Ireland pre-date the UK’s membership of the EU.

She said in the event of Brexit – the UK would keep an open border with Ireland. She described claims to the contrary as “scare tactics”.

Mr. Osborne also said Northern Ireland is particularly vulnerable to the economic shock he believes would follow if the UK votes to leave.

He said the loss of EU agriculture and peace funding, as well as border and customs checks could reduce trade, cost jobs and affect living standards.

The Chancellor also warned that farmers would face lower subsidy payments if the UK leaves the EU.

He said leaving would make the UK poorer and so he “can’t see how you could keep the same level of support for agriculture”.

The Chancellor has insisted that Leave campaigners are not being straight with voters in Northern Ireland.