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Northern Ireland man who questioned Tory PM hopefuls 'unimpressed'

The Northern Ireland man who posed the Irish question to the Tory leaderships contestants vying for the keys to 10 Downing Street has said he was unimpressed with their answers.

Mark Nolan from Ballyclare asked the candidates how they would solve the Irish border issue, "which many in Northern Ireland feel was Theresa May's downfall".

Frontrunner Boris Johnson said the issue could be dealt with during trade negotiations after the Withdrawal Agreement was passed by MPs.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove, who previously worked in Northern Ireland, said the Irish border question was about "much more than just trade across the border".

He said there was a need to get the Assembly back up and running to give nationalists a voice in the Brexit process.

Speaking on the BBC's Good Morning Ulster, Mr Nolan said he "didn't think much" of the candidates' answers.

"I wasn't expecting anything concrete from any of them. I think Rory Stewart was the only one with any sort of plan, which was basically to push through Theresa May's deal, but I was disappointed that the four others - their was no clear consensus to what their approach would be.

"I don't think we're any clearer to understanding what that is, particularly if there is an no deal Brexit."

He said most of the candidates did not agree with Theresa May's Withdrawal Agreement and described Boris Johnson's approach as "kicking the can down the road".

Sajid Javid mooted putting a time limit on the backstop, while Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt stated technology could be used to ensure frictionless cross-border trade.

Mark Nolan from Ballyclare questioned the candidates during a BBC debate. Credit: BBC
Mark Nolan from Ballyclare questioned the candidates during a BBC debate. Credit: BBC

Mark Nolan said: "I work in IT and there is technology out there, but it still relies on physical checks and I think everybody just need to know where those checks will be, how they'll be implemented and what impact they will have on border communities.

"It's not too long ago since we removed the border and it is still a very sensitive subject. I have family in Fermanagh and I know a lot of people in that area are deeply concerned about what is going to happen."

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