The contenders for the Conservative Party’s leadership are in Northern Ireland today, competing for the votes of the 500 party members who live there. With the population of Northern Ireland now at 1.871 million these members constitute less than 0.03% of the local population but have potentially enormous power over the region’s future.
Commenting, Ian Murray MP, leading supporter of the People’s Vote campaign, said:
“Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt have serious questions to answer about Northern Ireland and Brexit.
“Promises of magic technology as a guarantee of an invisible border are not credible. Even if the appropriate hardware and software existed – and it does not – it would take years to build and test and would create a system so full of loopholes that smugglers, people traffickers and money launderers would be in clover.
“Nor is the claim that a destructive No Deal can be combined with no border checks remotely credible. The very WTO rules that No Deal’s advocates say we can fall back on would require us, as a legal necessity, to impose customs checks. Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt must know this, but they choose to ignore it.
“Faced with these realities, the temptation for the new prime minister will be to agree a Northern Ireland-only backstop to avoid No Deal, get a Brexit deal over the line and cut and run to a general election as quickly as they can. Both will deny it today, but who could trust a word that Boris Johnson says about anything, while Jeremy Hunt has more faces than Belfast’s Albert Clock.
“It is an outrage against democracy that the 500 members of the Conservative Party in Northern Ireland have a bigger say than the other 1.9 million people who live there. The only solution is to hand this decision back to the public in a People’s Vote on any form of Brexit.”