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Labour MP hits out at Government's position on Irish border post-Brexit

Published 26/10/2016

Thousands of people travel back and forth over the Irish border for work every day
Thousands of people travel back and forth over the Irish border for work every day

The Government's dual ambition to maintain the common travel area between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland and to control the UK's borders has been condemned as "contradictory nonsense" by a Labour MP.

Thousands of people travel back and forth over the Irish border for work every day.

But there has been speculation that Brexit could result in the return of a hard border as the 310-mile (500km) stretch between both jurisdictions becomes a frontier between the UK and the EU.

Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire told MPs that avoiding a return to a hard border will be a Brexit priority for the Government.

But Labour's Graham Jones suggested the Government's position on the Irish border and the wider issue of overall border control was inconsistent.

Responding to a question on the border from Craig Whittaker, the Tory MP for Calder Valley, Mr Brokenshire said: "The common travel area has served us well over many years and indeed that we were party to the common travel area before we joined the European Union.

"It is a priority that we do not see a return to the borders of the past."

He also insisted the Government wants to see the "strengthening of the common travel area".

But Mr Jones, the MP for Hyndburn, attacked the Government's stance on the issue.

He said: "The Secretary of State says he wants to take back control of our borders and particularly this border.

"At the same time he says he wants to keep the common travel area and the current arrangements.

"Isn't that a contradictory nonsense and won't it be the EU that decides in the end because it's the Republic border, so what conversations have you had with the European Union on this matter?"

Mr Brokenshire suggested Mr Jones was pre-empting negotiations with Brussels as he responded during Northern Ireland questions.

He said: "You are wanting to get into negotiations that have not started as yet.

"I would underline to him that shared will, that shared commitment, between ourselves, the Irish government and the Northern Ireland executive to support the common travel area to see that we do not see a return to the borders of the past and that is our absolute work that we have ahead of us."

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