David Davis has not visited Northern Ireland or the Republic of Ireland since September 2016, and Boris Johnson has not visited the Northern Ireland border since he became Foreign Secretary in July 2016, according to information obtained by the Open Britain campaign.
The revelation, which emerged through responses to a series of written parliamentary questions, will place further pressure on the ministers over their approach to the Irish border issue. David Davis this week cited the US-Canada border as a possible model for the Northern Ireland border, despite the fact that it’s a hard border with physical customs checks and armed guards. A recently leaked letter from Boris Johnson to Theresa May contained a startling assertion by the Foreign Secretary that “it is wrong to see the task as maintaining 'no border'" on the island of Ireland after Brexit.
Commenting on this story, Conor McGinn MP, leading supporter of Open Britain, said:
“It is beyond belief that David Davis hasn’t even bothered to visit Northern Ireland since September 2016 given how vital the issue of the border is to the whole Brexit process.
“Given his penchant for using the RAF as his own personal carrier, he really has no excuse for not making the short hop from Northolt to Aldergrove in over 18 months.
“The serious point here is that the Government keeps insisting there’ll be no return to a hard border on the island of Ireland, despite their reckless decision to drag the UK out of the Single Market and the Customs Union. But how can we take them at their word when the minister responsible for delivering Brexit has apparently visited Northern Ireland just once since he took on the job over 18 months ago, and has apparently never even visited the border?
“If a hard Brexit comes at the expense of undermining the peace process in Northern Ireland, then it’s definitely not the right path for the UK.”
Wes Streeting MP, leading supporter of Open Britain, said:
“It is outrageous that Boris Johnson hasn’t even visited the Northern Ireland border since he became Foreign Secretary, despite his disgraceful secret letter calling into question the open border on the island of Ireland.
“Maintaining the open border on the island of Ireland and upholding the Good Friday Agreement are critical. If Brexit is a threat to that, everyone is entitled to keep an open mind about whether it’s the right path for the country.”
Notes to editors:
Conor McGinn MP asked the Department for Exiting the EU how many times the Brexit Secretary, David Davis, has visited Northern Ireland. He was told “the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union visited Northern Ireland in September 2016.” See here.
Wes Streeting MP asked the Foreign and Commonwealth Office when the Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson last visited the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. He was told “the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs has not visited the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland since his appointment as Foreign Secretary.” See here.
Stephen Doughty MP asked how many times the Brexit Secretary visited (a) Brussels, (b) Luxembourg, (c) Paris, (d) Berlin and (e) Dublin in the last six months. He was told that David Davis has visited Brussels nine times in the last six months, Luxembourg once, Paris twice, Berlin once and Dublin nil. He apparently last visited Dublin in September 2016. See here.
More on the comparisons between the Northern Ireland border and the US-Canada border can be read here.
The story on the leaked letter from Boris Johnson on the Northern Ireland border can be read here.