Northern Ireland news

Boris Johnson's border solutions derided

Boris Johnson claimed there were 'abundant technical fixes' that would avoid checks on the border

TORY leadership contender Boris Johnson's plans for solving the vexed issue of the post-Brexit Irish border have been dismissed as "fantasy".

The former foreign secretary, who despite recent controversies relating to his private life remains the bookies' favourite to succeed Theresa May, said he could persuade Brussels there were alternatives to the backstop.

He told the BBC there were "abundant, abundant technical fixes" that would avoid checks on the border.

When challenged that these did not exist yet, Mr Johnson replied: "Well, they do actually... in very large measure they do, you have trusted trader schemes, all sorts of schemes that you could put into place."

However, he conceded there was "no single magic bullet".

The Uxbridge and South Ruislip MP admitted he would need Brussels' co-operation to avoid a hard border in the event of a no-deal Brexit but said he did "not believe for a moment" the UK would crash out of the EU on October 31.

Sinn Féin MP Chris Hazzard said Mr Johnson's proposals were "deluded" and highlighted his "total lack of knowledge of issues around the border".

"It is widely accepted that there are currently no technological solutions anywhere in the world that could deal with the disastrous impact of Brexit in the north – that suggestion has been roundly debunked on repeated occasions," he said.

"This type of rhetoric may fool Tory party members but it does not fool anyone in Ireland or anyone with even the most basic grasp of the situation."

The South Down MP said the only deal on the table was the withdrawal agreement.

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood described Mr Johnson’s suggested solutions as "fantasy".

"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?" he said

"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."

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