BBC presenter criticised after suggesting Ireland could ‘throw in their lot’ with Britain
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BBC presenter criticised after suggesting Ireland could ‘throw in their lot’ with Britain

BBC presenter John Humphrys has been criticised after suggesting Ireland could quit the EU and ‘throw in their lot’ with Britain.

Speaking to Ireland’s European Minister Helen McEntee on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, he said there was an argument to be made for his suggestion.

McEntee responded to the idea by saying that 92 per cent of Irish people prefer to remain part of the EU.

Among those critical of Humphrys’ comments was Labour MP David Lammy, who labeled them ‘imperialist claptrap’.

Backstop debate

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The pair had initially debated the importance of the backstop, which aims to prevent a hard border in Ireland but will temporarily keep the UK in the customs union.

Humphrys said ‘the people of Britain voted to leave the European Union’ and the backstop’s conditions undermined that.

Helen McEntee (Image: RollingNews.ie)

However McEntee explained that the backstop was not just an Irish issue, and it offered a way for Britain to fulfil its obligations to the Good Friday Agreement.

Humphrys then closed the segment with his suggestion that Ireland ditch the EU.

‘Throw in their lot’

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Citing Britain’s economic importance to Ireland, he said: “There has to be an argument, doesn’t there, that says instead of Dublin telling this country that we have to stay within the single market, within the customs union, why doesn’t Dublin, why doesn’t the Republic of Ireland, leave the European Union and throw in their lot with this country?”

McEntee responded by saying: “We want a deal, we want a withdrawal agreement, we want to be able to work with the UK moving forward, but to suggest that we should leave?

“Ninety-two per cent of Irish people last year said that they wanted Ireland to remain as part of the European Union and in fact since Brexit that figure has gotten only bigger.”

Humphrys’ suggestion drew criticism and disbelief from both sides of the Irish Sea, with Labour MP Ben Bradshaw accusing him of ‘woeful ignorance’.

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