POLITICS
24/10/2018 15:00 BST

Dominic Raab Has Not Visited The Irish Border Since Becoming Brexit Secretary

Talks with the EU are deadlocked over how to keep the border open.

SIPA USA/PA Images

Dominic Raab has not visited the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland since being appointed Brexit secretary – despite talks with the EU being deadlocked over how to solve the problem.

The government has revealed the only current Brexit minister to have made a visit in the last 12 months was Robin Walker – who travelled to the border just yesterday.

David Davis, who quit as Brexit secretary on July 8, visited twice in the last year.

But Raab, who replaced Davis, has yet to travel to see the for border himself since becoming secretary of state.

The revelation was made in a parliamentary question to the Department for Exiting the European Union (DExEU) asked by Lib Dem MP Layla Moran.

She said: “It shameful that the whole withdrawal agreement hinges on the Irish border, yet the secretary of state responsible hasn’t even bothered to visit Northern Ireland at all.

“The Tories seem happy to trade the lives of the communities on the Irish border for their ideological Brexit. Liberal Democrats demand better.

“The Tories are clearly incapable of finding  a solution to the Irish border. The people must have a final say on the deal, with an option to remain in the EU.”

A recent FOI by the party also revealed 182 ambulances and 270 fire engines crossed into the Republic of Ireland during 2016-17 in response to 999 calls – highlighting the importance of an open border. 

Talks between the UK and EU have stalled over how to prevent a hard border being erected on the island of Ireland.

Theresa May has claimed negotiations on a Withdrawal Agreement are 95% complete.

But Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament’s Brexit coordinator, said today talks were effectively “0 per cent done” as no agreement had been reached on the border.

The prime minister faces a showdown with Tory MPs this evening who are increasingly concerned about her Brexit plans.

The number of backbenchers publicly committed to oppose her Chequers blueprint for leaving the EU has now reached 50.

There is also likely to be a backlash after leaked Cabinet papers obtained by The Times indicated the transition period during which the UK will remain tied to Brussels could turn into a “long-running” arrangement lasting years.

The option of extending the transition period has been put forward as a way of resolving the impasse over the Irish frontier by giving extra time to find a mechanism to avoid a hard border.