UK

Labour Brexiteer Kate Hoey 'Channels Donald Trump' During 'Bonkers' Radio 4 Interview

'We are the ones who produced a paper!'

27/11/2017 12:24 GMT | Updated 27/11/2017 13:56 GMT

Labour’s Kate Hoey has been accused of a “classic example of leavers’ ostrich approach” to Brexit during a heated interview on the Today programme alongside Irish Senator Neale Richmond.

The pair were discussing the possibility of a hard border between the Republic of Ireland and it’s northern neighbour in the event of no deal, a scenario that many fear could ignite sectarian divisions in the region.

Hoey, a vocal Brexiteer, insisted the Irish Government would pay for any “physical  border” and needed to be more “positive” in negotiations, leading many to suggest she sounded not unlike Donald Trump talking about Mexico.

She said: “There are ways of doing this but Neale talks about certainty - why don’t the Irish Government actually become more positive about this and start looking at solutions with their closest neighbour and closest partner?

“After all, we are a friend of the Republic of Ireland, the relations have never been as good. Yet on this issue it seems they’re more concerned to keep the rest of EU satisfied than actually look at concrete, positive proposals.”

Jeff J Mitchell via Getty Images
Hoey alongside Nigel Farage at the final 'We Want Our Country Back' rally before the EU referendum last year.

Today show presenter Justin Webb suggested that perhaps as it was the UK that had decided to leave the EU then the UK bore responsibility for coming up with solutions.

Hoey replied: “We’re not the ones who will be putting up the physical border. If this ends up with a no-deal we won’t be putting up the border they’ll have to pay for it because it doesn’t need to happen.”

At this point an audibly incensed Neale interjected an accused the British Government of “continually [changing] its position”, to which Hoey shouted: “We are the ones who produced a paper!”

Neale responded: “There was no detail in the paper and there was no detail in the speech in Florence. We want detail, we want certainty.

“This impacts us - we haven’t made the decision for the UK to leave the EU, you are making the decision that affects us far more than anyone else on the Continent.”

Hoey ended the debate with the assertion that once Brexit is shown to be “very successful” that she “wouldn’t be a bit surprised if... [Ireland started] looking at leaving [the EU] as well”.

Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake said: “Kate Hoey seems to think other people should pay for the mess she and other Brexiteers have caused.

“This is completely delusional, it’s what you’d expect from UKIP but not a Labour MP.

“Jeremy Corbyn must condemn these irresponsible and divisive remarks.”

The border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, which will be the UK’s only land frontier with the bloc after its departure, is one of three issues Brussels wants broadly solved before it decides next month on whether to move the talks onto a second phase about trade, as Britain wants.

Before it can sign off on the first phase of talks, the Irish government wants Britain to spell out in writing how it intends to make good on its commitment that the 500-km (310 mile) border will remain as seamless post-Brexit as it is today.

Dublin has said this can be best achieved if London commits, on behalf of Northern Ireland, that there would be no regulatory divergence north and south of the border. Coveney said that includes all areas from agriculture to state aid rules.

But the row escalated over the weekend as politicians from both countries set out contrasting views just weeks before a crunch summit.

In an interview with The Observer on Sunday, Ireland’s EU Commissioner warned Dublin would “continue to play tough to the end” over the issue as he called on Theresa May to keep Northern Ireland in the customs union in order to prevent a hard border.

International Trade Secretary Liam Fox doubled down on the UK’s position, repeating that the UK would be leaving the single market and customs union after Brexit – but insisting there would be no hard border on the island of Ireland.

The Irish government has denied threatening to derail the Brexit negotiations but insisted it would remain “resolute” in its stance over the border row.

Theresa May has just a week to meet a European Union deadline to make progress on key Brexit stumbling blocks, including the handling of Northern Ireland’s border, but Cabinet minister Liam Fox said the issue could not be finally resolved until trade talks with Brussels have progressed.