Phil Hogan: “Absurdist Politics.” RollingNews.ie photo
By Anthony Neeson
A former Stormont Finance Minister has warned that “dangerous fools” in the British Conservative Party must not be allowed to destroy the Irish peace process.
Renewed infighting within the government party in Britain has risen to the surface after former British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson – who resigned in July – launched a blistering attack on Prime Minister Theresa May over her EU withdrawal plans, focusing much of his ire on the issue of the Irish border.
Attacking the prime minister for agreeing a backstop deal with the EU, that could see Northern Ireland stay within the customs union and single market, Mr. Johnson wrote in The Mail on Sunday newspaper: “That would mean a border down the Irish Sea.”
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Referring to the EU’s Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, Johnson added: “We have given him a jemmy with which Brussels can choose – at any time – to crack apart the Union between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.”
He said Mrs. May’s Brexit plans were akin to wrapping a “suicide vest” around Britain and handing the detonator to Brussels.
Mr. Johnson’s comments came as it was announced that he and his wife of 25 years are to divorce.
Former Sinn Féin Finance Minister, Máirtín Ó Muilleoir, said Mr. Johnson’s comments were “appalling, foolish and dangerous.”
“He has demonstrated yet again a complete disregard for the democratic wishes of the people of the north and the progress made over the last two decades as a result of the Irish peace process,” Mr. Ó Muilleoir (who chairs the Echo’s parent company, Belfast Media Group) said.
“His remarks unveil the real agenda of the Brexiteers which is to tear up the Good Friday Agreement regardless of the consequences for the community in the North.
“Boris Johnson was a member of the British Tory government when it agreed to the backstop with the EU last December, and again in March this year.
“He is foolish if he thinks the EU 27 will turn their backs on the Irish peace process which they rightly regard as a crowning achievement of the European Union.”
Mr. Ó Muilleoir said the onus is now on the Irish government to “stand firm in the Brexit negotiations and ensure the backstop is delivered.”
While many Conservative MPs attacked Mr. Johnson over his “suicide vest” comments, DUP MP Sammy Wilson weighed in behind him.
“Boris Johnson is saying nothing that the DUP has not been saying since the withdrawal agreement was first drafted in September 2017,” he said.
Meanwhile, Ireland’s European Commissioner has also criticized Conservative Party politicians.
In a speech at the Kennedy Summer School in New Ross, County Wexford.
Phil Hogan said: “More than two years after the referendum the UK remains in a pickle. And by a pickle, I mean that the UK is trapped in a recurring cycle of silly behavior.”
Hogan said the actions of Conservative Party politicians was “leading to absurdist politics.”