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Boris Johnson: If man can get to the moon, then we can solve Northern Ireland border problem

Boris Johnson said the core problem in delivering Brexit is
Boris Johnson said the core problem in delivering Brexit is "technical and logistical"

Tory leadership front-runner Boris Johnson has claimed that if man can be put on the Moon, the problem of the Irish border can be solved with technology.

Mr Johnson made the comments in his column in the Daily Telegraph as the world marks the 50th anniversary of the iconic moon landing.

With the winner of the Conservative leadership contest - and next Prime Minister - to be announced on Tuesday, the former foreign secretary insisted the UK can leave the EU by October 31 with the help of the United States' "can do spirit".

He said the core problem in delivering Brexit is "technical and logistical" and technology can be employed to carry out checks on goods crossing the border.

Mr Johnson, who has refused to rule out a no-deal exit, said checks will have to be carried out away from the border, because "no one can accept border controls in Northern Ireland".

"It is absurd that we have even allowed ourselves to be momentarily delayed by these technical issues. If they could use hand-knitted computer code to make a frictionless re-entry to Earth’s atmosphere in 1969, we can solve the problem of frictionless trade at the Northern Irish border," he added.

“There is no task so simple that government cannot over-complicate if it doesn’t want to do it. And there are few tasks so complex that humanity cannot solve if we have a real sense of mission to pull them off.

“It is time this country recovered some of its can-do spirit. We can come out of the EU on October 31, and yes, we certainly have the technology to do so. What we need now is the will and the drive.”

The issue to the Irish border has long been one of the main sticking-points in the Brexit negotiations, with the controversial backstop designed to ensure frictionless trade across the frontier.

It would keep the UK in the EU customs union, and Northern Ireland in large parts of the EU single market, if an alternative solution cannot be found by the time the UK leaves.

The Irish border
The Irish border

One solution that has been mooted over the course of the negotiations is using technology to ensure frictionless trade. Many remainers and EU negotiators, however, have dismissed the idea as impossible.

Mr Johnson labelled these detractors “technological pessimists”.

“There is abundant scope to find the solutions necessary – and they can and will be found, in the context of the Free Trade Agreement that we will negotiate with the EU (and this is common to both candidates in the current leadership contest) after we have left on October 31," he said.

Outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May will tender her resignation to the Queen after taking questions in the Commons on Wednesday afternoon, with the new Tory leader set to enter Number 10 soon after.

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