Leaked Boris Johnson’s Letter To PM Raises The Prospect Of A Hard Border In Ireland
The Foreign Secretary tells Mrs May it is not Government's job to maintain “no border” in Ireland

An explosive leaked memo revealed that the Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has told the Prime Minister it is not Britain’s responsibility to prevent a hard border in Ireland after Brexit.

In a letter he sent to Theresa May, obtained by Sky News, Mr Johnson urged the PM to agree it should be the Government’s objective to prevent the crossing becoming “significantly harder”.

Mr Johnson tried to play down the “exaggerated impression” of “how important checks are” at EU external borders.

“it is wrong to see the task as maintaining ‘no border’” on the island of Ireland after Brexit, Mr Johnson reportedly told the PM, and that the Government’s task will be to “stop this border becoming significantly harder”.

He suggested that “even if a hard border is reintroduced” in Ireland, it would not significantly affect trade across the UK’s land border with the EU, in an apparent reversal of his previous position.

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last year, the Foreign Secretary promised there would be no new hard border between the North and the Republic. “the border would be absolutely unchanged” Mr Johnson said during the Brexit referendum campaign.

Labour’s shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry accused Mr Johnson of playing “games with the British public” saying the letter directly contradicted what he told parliament.

Later, Mr Johnson told Sky News that the letter was essentially a positive one. He said: “The issue of the Northern Ireland border is being used quite a lot politically to try to keep the UK in the customs union and effectively the single market, so we can’t really leave the EU.”

“I think the particular problem around the Irish border is being used politically to drive the whole Brexit argument and effectively to try and frustrate Brexit.”

Mr Johnson’s letter comes the day before the European Commission publishes a draft legal text setting out the commitment demanded from Britain to avoid a hard crossing.

The draft is expected to say Northern Ireland may need to be considered part of EU customs territory after Brexit, creating a single regulatory space on the island of Ireland with no internal barriers.

Labour’s shadow Northern Ireland secretary Owen Smith branded Mr Johnson’s comments as “reckless and irresponsible”.

“The Prime Minister should condemn these remarks immediately and seriously consider the position of her Foreign Secretary.” Mr Smith told Sky News.

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