Jacob Rees-Mogg sparks row after video emerges of him suggesting Irish border checks like ‘we had during the Troubles’ could be brought in post Brexit
- Tory Brexiteer made the comments at a town-hall style meeting in April 2016
- Deputy Irish PM Simon Coveney criticised the ill-informed remarks on Twitter
- Theresa May has promised there will be no return to hard Irish border post Brexit
Jacob Rees-Mogg has sparked controversy after a video emerged of him suggesting the UK could introduce Irish border checks like ‘we had during the Troubles’.
The Tory Brexiteer made the comments at a town-hall style meeting in April 2016 – just two months before the EU referendum.
His remarks contradict Theresa May who has repeatedly said that there will not be a return to a hard Irish border amid fears this could reignite the bloody violence that plagued the region for decades.
Simon Coveney, the Irish deputy Prime Minister, furiously tore into Mr Rees-Mogg’s remarks which he said were ‘ill-informed’.
In the video, the Tory MP is quizzed about what kind of border checks could be undertaken if the UK quit the bloc.
Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg (pictured at the town hall style meeting in April 2016) said border checks could be enforced to stop the creation of a backdoor into the UK
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Mr Rees-Mogg, who is chairman of the European Research Group – the powerful group of Brexit-backing Tory backbenchers – said the UK could continue with ‘historic arrangements’ to prevent the creation of a backdoor into the UK.
He continued: ‘There would be our ability, as we had during the Troubles, to have people inspected.
‘It’s not a border that everyone has to go through every day. But of course for security reasons during the Troubles, we kept a very close eye on the border to try and stop gun-running and things like that.’
Mr Coveney hit out at Mr Rees-Mogg on Twitter over the remarks.
He said: ‘It’s hard to believe that a senior politician is so ill informed about Ireland and the politics of the #Brexit Irish border issue that he could make comments like these.
The Irish deputy PM tore into Jacob Rees-Mogg’s comments on Twitter, branding them ill-informed
‘We have left “the troubles” behind us, through the sincere efforts of many, + we intend on keeping it that way.’
Politicians in the UK and Ireland have warned that a return to the hard border checks of the past could reignite sectarian violence and endanger the Good Friday Agreement.
The thorny issue has threatened to derail the entire Brexit talks as the UK and the EU have so far failed to come up with an agreement on it.
The EU wants Northern Ireland to stay in a common regulatory area for goods and customs with the rest of the EU.
But this has sparked fury in the UK among critics who say this would effectively annex Northern Ireland and create a border in the Irish Sea.
Mrs May has said this is something she could never agree to.
Mrs May’s suggested solution, a complex customs arrangement that would see the UK collect duties for the EU, has been dismissed by Brussels.
MailOnline has contacted Mr Rees-Mogg for comment.
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