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Nigel Farage branded clueless by SDLP after his attack on EU's Brexit negotiator

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Nigel Farage has come under fire for comments he made about Michel Barnier in a newspaper interview

Nigel Farage has come under fire for comments he made about Michel Barnier in a newspaper interview

AP

Nigel Farage has come under fire for comments he made about Michel Barnier in a newspaper interview

Former UKIP leader Nigel Farage has come under attack from Northern Ireland politicians for saying that the European Union's chief negotiator "would like the IRA to become active again".

In an interview given to The Times newspaper on Saturday, Mr Farage also accused Michel Barnier of "almost encouraging republican terrorism".

The comments have outraged a number of political representatives here just over a week before Parliament returns from summer recess.

"Full marks to Barnier," Mr Farage said.

"He's terrified the British establishment into being prepared to surrender almost everything."

He added that Mr Barnier, the EU's Brexit negotiator, "would like the IRA to become active again" and had created the idea of "a hard border and soldiers with rifles".

The Alliance Party's deputy leader Stephen Farry labelled Mr Farage's comments as "stupid".

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"They illustrate an increased desperation as Brexit unsurprisingly is not going as planned," he said. "The Irish border is not some minor complication but central to the lives of many.

"The Barnier team and wider European Union continues to show much greater understanding than the Brexit ideologues [of] what is necessary to protect the Good Friday Agreement."

The SDLP's Brexit spokesperson and South Belfast MLA Claire Hanna said Mr Farage was "clueless" when it came to the border issue.

"Nigel Farage is an utterly reckless person who says extreme things to attract attention with no regard to their consequences.

"He's completely clueless about the dynamics and complexity of the border and regulation issues. This is part of extreme Brexiteers' project blame and trying to apportion blame and failure on everybody but themselves," she added.

Mr Farage also said that Prime Minister Theresa May had softened her approach to Brexit when the government met at Chequers in July.

TUV leader Jim Allister agreed with Mr Farage's sentiments, while also blaming the EU for "a deliberate distortion" between what a customs and a security border would mean.

"Since the EU has been malevolently hyping the border issue throughout the negotiations with much nonsense propagated about a threat to peace, I can fully understand Nigel Farage's sentiment," he said, adding that the "spectre of violence feeds the EU's propaganda".

A spokesperson for Mr Barnier said no comment would be made by him or a representative.


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