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Leaving EU 'will mean return of border posts' in Ireland, warns Lawson

By Nevin Farrell

Published 11/04/2016

Lord Lawson speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show yesterday
Lord Lawson speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show yesterday

Checkpoints on the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic would be needed if the United Kingdom pulls out of the European Union, Lord Lawson has said.

The Conservative former chancellor admitted that Brexit would result in the introduction of controls along the 310-mile frontier.

Speaking on the Andrew Marr Show, he said a vote to walk away from Europe would mean "border controls" - a move that former Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Mandelson recently warned could "irrevocably reorder our UK".

Pro-Europe campaigners said Lord Lawson's comments directly contradict those of fellow leave campaigner, Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers, who has said: "I don't think anyone should assume that border checks should be introduced as a result of a UK exit."

Commenting on Lord Lawson's remarks, Will Straw of Britain Stronger In Europe said: "This is yet another admission from the leave campaign that exiting the EU will have a detrimental impact on the UK. By outlining that Northern Ireland would face the introduction of border controls if we left the EU, Nigel Lawson is admitting that the UK's relationship with Ireland would fundamentally change.

"He also directly contradicted claims from Theresa Villiers that this would not happen.

"This comes on the back of mounting evidence that the UK's economy and security would be at risk if we left Europe. The leave campaign has repeatedly been unable to answer simple questions about Britain's future. The only conclusion is that the UK is stronger, safer and better off in Europe than we would be on our own."

Mr Marr had asked the Tory peer, a key figure in the Vote Leave campaign, what would happen to the Irish border in a Euro exit.

He replied: "We have always made Ireland a special case, long before we were in the EU.

"We have allowed the Irish, for example, to vote in British elections.

"We don't allow anybody else who is not British to vote in British elections. No, the Irish are for historical reasons a special case, and they will remain a special case."

"The Anglo-Irish relationship is a very, very special relationship, and it will continue to be so. It has been ever since Irish independence was secured."

Mr Marr suggested that the Republic was a back door to immigration into the UK from the rest of the EU and other parts of the world.

Lord Lawson said: "But that can be stopped. There would have to be border controls, but not a prevention of genuine Irish from coming in across the border.

"And there would also be - which is even more important - as there is now, particularly close co-operation between the security services in Northern Ireland and in the Republic to prevent the IRA and the terrorist threat from being worse than it is."

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