Hain – Ministers are in chaos on Northern Ireland and the Customs Union

Confusion has erupted today over the Government’s position on Northern Ireland’s place in the Customs Union. A Government spokesman said earlier today that for Northern Ireland to stay in the Customs Union while the rest of the UK leaves would be “a matter for the negotiations.”

However the Government has since backtracked, saying that their position that the whole of the UK will leave the Customs Union has not changed.

Commenting, Lord Peter Hain, leading supporter of Open Britain and former Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, said: 

“Another day, another dose of confusion about the Government’s position on Ireland. It looks like the policy of potentially keeping Northern Ireland in the Customs Union has lasted the best part of forty minutes.

“Ministers are in such chaos because their position is so impossible and illogical. They want a totally open border in Ireland and the continuation of the Common Travel Area, while leaving the Customs Union and ending free movement. The circle cannot be squared. 

“The bottom line must be that nothing should be done that jeopardises peace and prosperity in Northern Ireland, or that weakens the bonds between Ireland and the United Kingdom. That means the Government must change course and negotiate to keep the whole of the UK in the Customs Union.”