Chris Leslie calls on Theresa May to publish Boris Johnson’s secret letter on Northern Ireland border in full

Leading Open Britain supporter Chris Leslie MP has today written to the Prime Minister calling on her to publish in full the secret letter authored by Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson on the subject of the Northern Ireland border.

Reports detailing the leaked letter suggest that the Foreign Secretary said it is not the job of the Government to ensure there is no border on the island of Ireland, and was relatively relaxed about the prospect of a hard border re-emerging.

Answering questions from Sky News on the subject earlier today, Boris Johnson suggested he might publish the letter himself.

During an Urgent Question on the matter in the House of Commons earlier, Chris Leslie asked Secretary of the State for the Cabinet Office David Lidington, standing in for the Foreign Secretary (who failed to turn up), when the Government would publish the letter. David Lidington suggested the Government would not be publishing the letter at all.

In the letter, Chris Leslie MP, leading supporter of Open Britain, says to the Prime Minister:

“You have repeatedly committed that your Government will not allow Brexit to lead to the re-emergence of a hard border on the island of Ireland. Everyone agrees that this commitment is vital in order to maintain the fragile progress we have achieved in the Northern Ireland peace process since the dark days of The Troubles. Nobody wants a return to that terrible past.

“That’s why it was deeply worrying to hear reports that your Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, wrote a secret letter to you in which he apparently said that it should not be the Government’s job to ensure ‘no border’ and in which he appeared relaxed about the re-emergence of a hard border.

“Given the Foreign Secretary suggested this morning that he would publish the letter so people could make up their own mind on its contents, I later asked the Secretary of State for the Cabinet Office and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster in the House of Commons to tell us when this would happen. However, the Minister indicated that the letter will not be published at all. I believe it would be wrong not to publish the letter in full. All of us have the right to know what the Government’s plans are for the border in Northern Ireland.”

/ends

 

Notes to editors:

The original story on the leaked letter by Boris Johnson on the subject of the Northern Ireland border can be read here.

The interview in which Boris Johnson suggested he would publish the letter himself can be read here.

The full text of the letter from Chris Leslie to the Prime Minister can be read here:

Dear Prime Minister,

You have repeatedly committed that your Government will not allow Brexit to lead to the re-emergence of a hard border on the island of Ireland. Everyone agrees that this commitment is vital in order to maintain the fragile progress we have achieved in the Northern Ireland peace process since the dark days of The Troubles. Nobody wants a return to that terrible past.

That’s why it was deeply worrying to hear reports that your Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, wrote a secret letter to you in which he apparently said that it should not be the Government’s job to ensure ‘no border’ and in which he appeared relaxed about the re-emergence of a hard border. In November last year, just a few short months ago, the Foreign Secretary himself described a return to a hard border as “unthinkable”, so this letter seems to represent an alarming shift in Government policy.

Given the Foreign Secretary suggested this morning that he would publish the letter so people could make up their own mind on its contents, I later asked the Secretary of State for the Cabinet Office and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster in the House of Commons to tell us when this would happen. However, the Minister indicated that the letter will not be published at all. I believe it would be wrong not to publish the letter in full. All of us have the right to know what the Government’s plans are for the border in Northern Ireland.  

I am, therefore, writing to ask you to answer three key questions about the Foreign Secretary’s letter.

  1. Will the Government agree to publish the letter from the Foreign Secretary, in full, so people can make up their own minds about the contents, as the Foreign Secretary himself has suggested would be appropriate?  
  2. Does the Foreign Secretary’s reported suggestion in the letter that it shouldn’t be the Government’s job to ensure no border on the island of Ireland accurately reflect Government policy on the matter?
  3. Do you agree that the only way to prevent a return to a hard border on the island of Ireland is for the whole of the UK to stay in the Single Market and the Customs Union, and will she consider reassessing her Brexit ‘red lines’ to reflect this reality?  

I look forward to receiving your response.

Yours Sincerely,

Chris Leslie MP

Leading Supporter, Open Britain