LABOUR peer Andrew Adonis has claimed the DUP ‘want’ a hard border in Ireland.
Lord Adonis made the claim after a three-day visit to Northern Ireland, during which he met businesses and residents along the border.
However Emma Little-Pengelly, DUP MP for South Belfast, has dismissed Lord Adonis’ claims as ‘absolute lies’.
Speaking at the end of his trip, which coincided with Theresa May’s first visit to the border since becoming Prime Minister two years ago, Lord Adonis tweeted: “After 3 days in Northern Ireland I now understand DUP mindset.
“They WANT hardest possible Brexit because they want new hard border with Ireland for cultural/political reasons.
“But essential they can blame UK govt, so they claim publicly not to want ‘hard border.’ Deeply dishonest.”
After 3 days in Northern Ireland I now understand DUP mindset. They WANT hardest possible Brexit because they want new hard border with Ireland for cultural/political reasons. But essential they can blame UK govt, so they claim publicly not to want ‘hard border.’ Deeply dishonest
— Andrew Adonis (@Andrew_Adonis) July 21, 2018
Remain supporter Lord Adonis, who is currently leading a campaign for a second Brexit referendum, also said there is no appetite for a return to the days of border checkpoints from before the Good Friday Agreement.
“Everyone here in Northern Ireland - Belfast, Newry, Londonderry - says how life is transformed for the better in last 20 years,” he tweeted.
“Anger that DUP ‘selling Ulster down the river over Brexit because they are stuck in the 1920s,’ as one young farmer put it to me.”
Adonis’ fellow member of the House of Lords, John Kilclooney, described the Labour peer as ‘biased’.
Controversial crossbench peer Lord Kilclooney, who previously said Co. Donegal would be better off in Northern Ireland, replied to Adonis, saying: “That is your biased interpretation but not an understanding of NI in 48 hrs!”
Meanwhile the DUP’s Little-Pengelly described Lord Adonis as ‘disgraceful’ following his comments.
She replied on Twitter to the peer’s views by saying: “Absolute lies. Your tweet sums up what a disgraceful person you are. We have made clear we do not want a hard border.
Absolute lies. Your tweet sums up what a disgraceful person you are. We have made clear we do not want a hard border. Shame on you, you are simply using the border for your own narrow political objective caring not for reconcilliation. Hope all will see through you,as they should
— E Little-Pengelly MP (@little_pengelly) July 21, 2018
“Shame on you, you are simply using the border for your own narrow political objective caring not for reconcilliation [sic].
“Hope all will see through you, as they should.”
Britain and EU at odds
Ahead of her two-day trip to the North, Mrs May said she had ‘ruled out any kind of hard border’.
In December, Britain and the EU agreed a backstop for Northern Ireland to remain in the EU single market and customs union during the post-Brexit transition period, until a trade deal between the whole of the UK and Europe could be agreed.
However under pressure from unionist politicians that Northern Ireland be treated no differently from Britain, Mrs May has proposed a new backstop for the whole of the UK to temporarily remain in the EU customs union after Brexit until a trade deal is agreed.
With the EU wanting a Northern Ireland only deal, as was agreed, and with both sides at complete odds just eight months away from Brexit, the possibility of a no deal – and a hard border – is looking increasingly likely.