Belfast Telegraph

Have you ever visited Crossmaglen? Boris Johnson challenged on Irish border knowledge

Northern Ireland MP Sylvia Hermon has challenged former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson over his knowledge of the Northern Ireland border situation.

The Independent Unionist quizzed Mr Johnson during a debate in the House of Commons on Tuesday, ahead of the rejection of Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit withdrawal deal.

Mrs Hermon challenged Mr Johnson on his claim that the country was "going to take back control of its borders".

"Has he ever visited south Armagh? Has he ever visited Crossmaglen?" the North Down MP asked.

"How does the right honourable gentleman, with the greatest respect, think he is going to take back control of the border without the backstop arrangement?"

The controversial Irish border backstop plan aims to prevent a hard border in Ireland and has effectively deadlocked Brexit negotiations with the DUP and hardline Brexiteers rejecting it if it doesn't have a time limit or a unilateral exit mechanism.

The Irish Government and EU are adamant that there can be no withdrawal deal without the backstop.

Crossmaglen is a village in south Armagh, close to the Irish border. It was the site of many killings of police officers and soldiers during the Troubles.

Mr Johnson said that he had "certainly visited the places" mentioned by Mrs Hermon. The former Mayor of London said he visited "in times of the Troubles".

"I can tell you that nobody wants those types of border controls to come back, least of all the government of Dublin, or of London, or, indeed, in Brussels," he said.

"By the way, nobody thinks it is necessary."

The Belfast Telegraph has attempted to contact the office of Boris Johnson for comment.

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