David Cameron warns of post-Brexit border controls

British Prime Minister David Cameron has said border controls will be imposed if the UK leaves the EU. Picture by PA Wire

DAVID Cameron has insisted there will be controls along the border if the UK leaves the European Union.

The British prime minister said the only post-Brexit alternative to a hard border separating the north from the Republic were checks at entry points from Northern Ireland into Britain.

Mr Cameron was speaking at Westminster in response to a question from South Belfast MP Alasdair McDonnell.

The former SDLP leader said a return to would be a critical economic issue for Northern Ireland’s voters in next week's referendum.

The prime minister said that if the UK stayed in the EU the situation would remain the same. However, he said things would be different in the event of a Brexit.

"If we were to leave – the leave campaigners want to make a big issue about our borders – we will have a land border between Britain outside the European Union and the Republic of Ireland inside the European Union," he said.

"Therefore, you can only have new border controls between the Republic and Northern Ireland or, which I would regret hugely, you would have to have some sort of checks on people as they left Belfast or other parts of Northern Ireland to come to the rest of the United Kingdom."

Mr Cameron said a UK withdrawal carried risks to jobs and borders.

"I say: avoid the risks and vote remain next Thursday," he said.

Mr Cameron's remarks came as former Ulster Unionist leader Tom Elliott indicated that he will reject the advice of his successor Mike Nesbitt and support a Brexit.

The UUP has come out in favour of retaining ties with Brussels but the Fermanagh-South Tyrone MP told his local paper he is "just about in favour of voting to leave Europe".

"My heart basically says to get out while my head would say that I need to reconsider that but on balance, I'm just about in favour of voting to leave Europe," he told the Fermanagh Herald.

"While I have been undecided, my stance hasn't changed around that decision and broadly that has been my position all along."

Meanwhile, Martin McGuinness has said that leaving the EU would "run counter to the democratic wishes of the Irish people".

Speaking at an event in London, the deputy first minister said: "A British exit from Europe would be bad for the development of all-Ireland integration and for border communities in the border region.

"Brexit is likely to lead to the reintroduction of border controls, limiting freedom of movement, harming trade and adversely affecting cross-border communities and workers, creating barriers to education, health and welfare."

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe now to get full access