First Back Bench Criticism of Potential Boris Deal

FORMER Northern Ireland Secretary Owen Paterson is the first Tory to break ranks as regards a potential new free trade deal for Britain after we have left the EU,

Paterson tells tomorrow’s Daily Telegraph that “there is a danger that lurking beneath the warm words is a plan from the EU and the Republic of Ireland to keep Northern Ireland permanently in the Customs Union.”

He warns that "there is a risk that Martin Selmayr’s view that Northern Ireland should be the price the UK pays for Brexit continues to prevail."

“Sovereign nations simply do not cede parts of their territory to the control of foreign powers as part of trading negotiations.”

“Such an outcome would be correctly characterised as an abject surrender. But in the context of Northern Ireland, it would be even worse.”

“85 per cent of sales by Northern Irish companies are in the UK.”

“Just 5 per cent are with the Republic and around 3 per cent with the rest of the EU.”

“It would be absurd to penalise Northern Ireland with EU costs and overbearing regulations for such a small proportion of trade, leaving it unable to take advantage of new UK trade deals.”

“It would also be a flagrant breach of the Belfast Agreement, also known as the Good Friday Agreement.”

“Leaving the EU is not, inherently, in conflict with the Agreement, as has been tested in both UK and Irish courts.”

“Yet Brussels and Dublin – incorrectly and self-appointed sole arbiters – have often pointed out that a 'hard border' would breach it.”

“This has been gleefully lapped up by Remainers, but such arguments were always based on a crude caricature of the situation.”

“No one has ever been arguing in favour of a 'hard border'.”

“No one has ever explained who would build such a thing.”

“It has certainly never been an undertaking of the British Government.”

“It would be completely undesirable, unnecessary and practically impossible”
, he says.