Northern Ireland news

Boris Johnson makes Northern Ireland trade pledge as he highlights Brexit deal

CHEESE AND UNION: Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the Tayto Castle crisp factory in Tandragee, Co Armagh Picture: Stefan Rousseau/PA
Michael McHugh

Frictionless trade between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK would be maintained under the proposed Brexit deal, Britain’s prime minister Boris Johnson has said.

Mr Johnson visited Tayto crisps in Co Armagh yesterday and took a turn on the production line.

His proposed EU deal foundered after DUP opposition to what some unionists termed a border in the Irish Sea.

Mr Johnson said: “This [deal] is a wonderful thing for NI because it allows the whole of the UK to leave while making sure there is not any border at all between Northern Ireland and the south but, also, and this is a very important point to get across, no friction at all west-east or east-west.

“There has been a lot of misunderstanding about the deal and perhaps... I wish we could have spent a bit more time explaining it because there won’t be any checks on stuff coming from Northern Ireland to Great Britain...We are the government of the UK, we won’t be implementing any checks, of course not.”

He said Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn would offer an “appalling” threat to Britain’s union with Northern Ireland.

Mr Corbyn held meetings with Sinn Féin leaders decades ago during the conflict.

Mr Johnson also criticised his rival over the possibility of referenda on Scottish independence and EU withdrawal saying: “Another turgid, torpid, toxic appalling EU referendum, which is the last thing we need.”

He added that tariffs levied on goods coming from Great Britain and going on to the Republic would represent a very small minority.

“If people don’t like it they can vote it out in four years’ time,” he said.

Mr Johnson visited the Tayto crisp factory in Tandragee and said he would be keeping some at Downing Street, admitting he tried the cheese and onion.

The visit was the last on a whistle-stop tour of businesses in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland that was tied in with the prime minister’s message about delivering the first stage of Brexit while keeping the United Kingdom together.

Arriving on board a private plane yesterday morning, Mr Johnson began by saying hello to those travelling with him and repeatedly remarked it was “Con Air” – an apparent nickname for the Conservative campaign airplane rather than a direct reference about the 1997 thriller movie starring Nicolas Cage.

After landing at Teesside Airport, Mr Johnson travelled to the Tetley Tea factory in Eaglescliffe

He drank a cup of tea and discussed with staff whether or not it was best to leave the tea bag in the cup, different types of tea and asked: “What about cream tea?”

On the tea he was drinking, the PM said: “I need it, the plane was
freezing.”

He was later given a tour of the production line and weighed boxes of teabags.

In Scotland, Mr Johnson met Douglas Ross – the Conservative candidate seeking re-election in Moray – for a tour of the Roseisle Distillery.

He sampled a whisky before jokingly telling reporters he was “not allowed” to sample too much.

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