Boris Johnson slammed after comparing Irish border to boundaries between London boroughs

Boris Johnson slammed after comparing Irish border to boundaries between London boroughs

BRITISH Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has been condemned for comparing the Irish border to the boundary between Camden and Westminster.

The former Mayor of London has been accused of being from "another planet" after likening travel between Northern Ireland and the Republic to crossing the two London boroughs.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Johnson drew the link while dismissing talk of a hard border post-Brexit.

"We think that we can have very efficient facilitation systems to make sure that there’s no need for a hard border, excessive checks at the frontier between Northern Ireland and the Republic," the 53-year-old told host Mishal Husain.

"There's no border between Camden and Westminster but when I was Mayor of London we anaesthetically and invisibly took hundreds of millions of pounds from the accounts of people travelling between these two boroughs without any need for border checks whatsoever."

Ms Husain, clearly taken aback by the lazy (at best) comparison, responded: "Come on, you can't compare two boroughs of London with the kinds of difference in the arrangement that would be in place after Brexit between the UK and the EU?"

But Johnson concluded: "I think it's a very relevant comparison.

"There is all sorts of scope for pre-booking, electronic checks, all sorts of things that you can do to obviate the need for a hard border, to allow us to come out of the customs union, take back control of our trade policy and do trade deals."

Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary Owen Smith has branded Johnson's comments as "typically facile and thoughtless", as other politicians from Westminster and Northern Ireland speak out to condemn the remarks.

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood tweeted: "When @BorisJohnson decides to come down from the other planet that he clearly inhabits he's welcome to come and actually visit the Irish border."

Liberal Democrat Northern Ireland spokesman Alistair Carmichael said the comments show "this country is not in safe hands.

"Once again the Foreign Secretary has shown why he shouldn’t be allowed out of the house to talk about foreign affairs.

"He has revealed a complete lack of understanding of the complexities and history of the Northern Irish border. It is one of the major outstanding issues of Brexit negotiations and one of our most senior Cabinet Ministers hasn’t even bothered to read his briefing notes.

“Peace was brought to Northern Ireland as a result of cooperation across the parties in Britain and Northern Ireland as well as between the UK and Ireland".

Mr Carmichael added: "Comments in recent days questioning that consensus shows that there is nothing that the Brexiteers will not do to achieve their ruinous end."