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Brexit: Leave camp divided over Irish border issues

By Allan Preston

Published 11/05/2016

David McNarry
David McNarry

UKIP claims that the army would need to be deployed along the Irish border if the United Kingdom leaves the European Union have been dismissed by other Leave campaigners.

Opponents in the Remain camp have accused Vote Leave of being split wide open on the issue of the Irish border.

Last weekend David McNarry, Ukip's outspoken leader in Northern Ireland, said soldiers would need to patrol the border to maintain security in the event of a 'Brexit'.

"I support patrols, active patrols. We need to have the army asserting our sovereignty," the former MLA said. "It's a hell of a job to ask anybody to do, but if you leave it then it's wide open for migration, for the clever traffickers, for the criminals."

But Lee Reynolds, the Northern Ireland co-ordinator of the Leave campaign, told the BBC Radio Talkback programme: "I believe David is mistaken. I believe the systems (which) already exist and can exist whenever we vote leave will manage the issue of immigration."

Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers - who is backing the Leave campaign - has said there would be no need for such border controls.

"We had a common travel area with Ireland before we joined the EU and we will have one after we vote to leave," she has said.

The former Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, another senior figure in the Vote Leave campaign, said the border should remain "absolutely unchanged".

"There's been a free travel area between the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland for, I think, getting on for 100 years," he said. "There's no reason at all why that should cease to be the case."

A spokesman for NI Stronger in Europe said: "When will the Leave campaign agree on this fundamentally important question, affecting tourism, trade, security and social cohesion in Northern Ireland?"

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