Boris Johnson’s solutions to Irish border branded ‘fantasy’

Boris Johnson, favourite to become the next British Primie Minister, claimed technical fixes could prevent a hard border. Colum Eastwood however has challenged his assertions.
Boris Johnson, favourite to become the next British Primie Minister, claimed technical fixes could prevent a hard border. Colum Eastwood however has challenged his assertions.

SDLP Leader Colum Eastwood MLA has said that it’s vital that political, business and media figures call out what he claimed was “the fantasy” of Boris Johnson’s solutions to the challenge of the border posed by Brexit.

The Foyle MLA claimed Boris Johnson seemed to think he’s on “cruise control on his way to the top of the Conservative Party and to Downing Street”, adding: “But whether he faces up to it now or in October, he will soon realise he’s running out of road with his Brexit plans.”

Mr Eastwood was speaking after Tory leadership candidate Mr Johnson addressed the question of the Irish border during an interview with the BBC’s Political Editor Laura Kuenssberg this week.

He told her: “Take the bits of the current Withdrawal Agrement, which is dead - the bit that are serviceable - and get them done. You are going to need some kind of agreement to get an implementation period.

“Nobody wants a hard border in Ireland and nobody believes it would be necessary. There are abundant technical fixes that can be introduced to make sure we don’t have to have checks at the border.”

Mr Eastwood however said however that the issues posed by Brexit were far more complex.

He claimed: “The truth is that all of his talk about technology and trusted trader schemes is fancy footwork around the core issues.

“How do you prevent crippling customs tariffs on trade across this island and across the European continent without border infrastructure in less than five months? How do you protect the integrity of the single market and manage SPS regulations without checks on goods at the border or in situ? Setting aside the political complexity of all that, the basic literacy of the Withdrawal Agreement has escaped Johnson – without an agreement there is no transition. And with no transition we are looking at a hard border very quickly.

“Three years after the crisis that he created, it’s time to get down to the hard prose of solutions.”