Belfast Telegraph

Project fear designed to bind UK to EU, says Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson in Dublin yesterday
Boris Johnson in Dublin yesterday

By Cate McCurry

Boris Johnson has claimed that "project fear" is being used to keep the UK in the customs union and "make a nonsense" of Brexit.

The former foreign secretary said he believed there was time to resolve the Irish border issue, which he described as "temporary gloom".

Speaking at the Pendulum business and self-empowerment summit in Dublin yesterday, the Tory MP said the UK and the Republic of Ireland "should be bold and brave together" in tackling the border problem.

"Whatever you may think about what people voted for, at present the arguments - the whole project fear stuff - is being used to keep the UK in the customs union, in the single market and therefore really to make a nonsense of leaving the EU," he said.

"We are told we can't do a deal with our friends over the Channel. If we can't do a deal with our friends across the Channel, there is a real risk of a hard border in Northern Ireland."

He also joked there was a suggested risk the UK would run out of drinking water and "two crucial ingredients for Mars Bars - sucrose and whey, apparently.

"It's not the job of politicians to go around moaning of potential shortages of Mars Bars. It's our job to meet those challenges and to mobilise people and to lead.

"It's not the job of the British Government to continually tell the people they can't do something. It's our job to tell them they can do it."

The former Cabinet minister stressed no one would accept a hard border between the Republic and Northern Ireland.


He said: "No one is going to accept it, no one is going to implement it and we shouldn't, simply because of these apprehensions, abandon the attempt to find the technical solutions that are readily available - according to the HMRC, according to the Irish authorities - without even trying.

"If there is, as we are told, a tiny risk of a shortage of whey for Mars Bars, I say let's sort it out. Where there is a will, there is a way.

"I would have thought, faced with what is a logistical, bureaucratic and technical problem, our two great countries should be bold and brave together and self-confident about our shared future because we are so alike in so many important ways.

"No matter what nonsense the prophets of doom may talk about the risks of new sanitary checks on livestock or hold-up on the border in the event of Brexit, I know that together we can organise it in the interests of our business.

"We have time to do it and we have time to get this right.

"I think if we can get it right together over the next few months, as I am absolutely sure we can, that the pendulum will swing again, as it always does, away from this temporary gloom and towards a new spirit of Anglo-Irish optimism and self-confidence.

"When it does it will be the entrepreneurs, yourselves included, that we will have to thank."

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