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Brexit: I'm on Republic's side in Ireland border stance, says Peter Hain



Peter Hain was Northern Ireland Secretary from 2005-2007

Peter Hain was Northern Ireland Secretary from 2005-2007

Peter Hain was Northern Ireland Secretary from 2005-2007

Former Northern Ireland secretary of state Peter Hain has said he is on the side of the Republic in the ongoing stalemate over how to solve the question of a post-Brexit Irish border, saying they were taking a "logical standpoint", while the British Government had no solutions or proposals.

The issue of how the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic has dogged the Brexit talks, with Dublin ministers saying there can be no progress to trade talks until a workable solution is presented.

"They are putting the logical point across in that we should remain in the customs union and single market," Lord Hain told the BBC Stephen Nolan show. 

"The point would be that we could protect our economy, jobs and, given the intertwining nature of the economies of the Republic and UK, it would protect the economy.

"It would maintain progress."


On Monday the Labour back bench MP Kate Hoey suggested if border controls were introduced, the Republic's government should pay for them.

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Lord Hain continued: "Many in the DUP take the same stance as Kate Hoey, that the border is not our problem, it is theirs to sort.

"If border becomes an external customs frontier there will have to be all sorts of checks and barriers - and that would be disastrous.

"I don't see how if we are not going to maintain a Northern Ireland presence in the customs market - and I understand Arlene Foster's position she will not agree to Northern Ireland being separate to rest of UK - but then the logic of that points to staying in the customs union and single market.

"There is an argument for Northern Ireland to stay within the single market and customs market... that is the only, most sensible option for everybody."

Lord Hain said he "feared the worst" and the "most sensible outcome" was for the UK to remain as part of the single market and the customs union.

"The government is stumbling toward a cliff face," he continued.

"They don't know what the future trade agreement will be. The EU is our biggest market by far. There are no proposals yet, there is no plan and we are hurtling toward March 2019.

"This is the most ill-thought out strategy that I can ever remember in 50 years in politics. There is a lot of rhetoric and dogma, but there is no plan.

"By far the most sensible outcome is to stay in the single market and customs union - because what is most important to families is jobs, trading and services being maintained.

"And having a go at the Irish Government is not a sensible way to proceed."

Lord Hain also said Prime Minister Theresa May was to blame for the ongoing political stasis in Northern Ireland. He said had she "rolled up her sleeves" and called a summit many months ago power sharing may have been restored. 

He added: "I don't think it is one party's fault, it is everyone's fault.... everyone is at a loss as to why the politicians are not doing what they are paid to do."

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