UK Should Defy Demands for Irish Brexit Border, Lawmaker Says

  • Pro-Brexit Tory Rees-Mogg says no need for border in Ireland
  • Question of Northern Irish border has dogged Brexit talks

U.K. Conservative lawmaker Jacob Rees-Mogg said Britain should refuse to set up border posts between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland after Brexit, and urged the Irish government to do the same.

Jacob Rees-Mogg

Photographer: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

The question of what happens with Britain’s only land border after it leaves the European Union has been the subject of heated debate. The region was the focus of terrorism for decades, and there are concerns that putting border posts back up could reignite violence. Prime Minister Theresa May says she wants “no return to the borders of the past.”

Rees-Mogg’s solution, offered on the fringes of the governing Conservative Party’s conference in Manchester on Sunday, was simple: Do nothing.

“We won’t have to,” he told a ConservativeHome event. “I don’t care if a few hundredweight of beef is smuggled across the Irish border. It will make no odds to the British economy. We have no obligation to put any border up. Full stop. Challenge the EU to do it. I just don’t believe that they will, and I don’t believe that the Irish will agree to them doing it.”

Rees-Mogg is popular with Tory party members and topped a recent poll of possible successors to May. The self-consciously old-fashioned lawmaker, who speaks Latin and has a large social-media following, represents the most enthusiastic supporters of Brexit, who are pressing May to avoid compromises during the split.

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