Gerard Batten, who also believes the European Union was conceived by Nazi Germany, suggests the Bilderberg Group is a “shadow world government”, and wants to ban the building of new mosques, made the claim on Twitter and insisted the country “relies on the UK for its existence”.
Ireland’s Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney dismissed the claim that Ireland was threatening the UK, but insisted his country must be protected in the Brexit process.
He said: “Ireland is not threatening anybody, least of all a friend, but we remain resolute in our insistence on a sensible way through Brexit that protects Ireland.”
Dublin has said that if either the whole of the UK or just Northern Ireland remains in the single market and customs union then there would be no problem with maintaining the current soft border arrangements – a proposal ruled out by the Prime Minister, reports the Press Association.
In light of Britain’s rocky imperial history with Ireland, Batten’s comments drew widespread condemnation.
Theresa May has been given until December 4 to come up with further proposals on issues including the border, the Brexit divorce bill and citizens’ rights if European leaders are to give the green light to moving on to the next phase of negotiations covering the future trading relationship between the UK and Brussels.
International Trade Secretary Dr Fox said: “We don’t want there to be a hard border but the UK is going to be leaving the customs union and the single market.”
He told Sky News’s Sunday with Niall Paterson: “We have always had exceptions for Ireland, whether it’s in our voting rights, our rights of residence in the UK, we have always accepted a certain asymmetry and that will have to be part of whatever agreement we come to with the European Union but we can’t come to a final answer to the Irish question until we get an idea of the end state.
“And until we get into discussions with the EU on the end state that will be very difficult, so the quicker that we can do that the better and we are still in a position where the EU doesn’t want to do that.”
Ukip has distanced itself from the comments. The party’s Head of Delegation, MEP Ray Finch, told HuffPost UK in a statement: “Mr Batten’s late night tweets do not reflect UKIP policy or sentiment.
“We wish to maintain free trade and free movement between the North and South of Ireland, full stop.
“The best way to avoid the European Commission imposing a hard border is to create an equal partnership of independent states outside EU.”
In 2014 HuffPost UK profiled Batten and uncovered a number of worrying revelations.
He hit the headlines in February of that year when he said he still agreed with a “charter of Muslim understanding” that he had originally proposed in 2006.
British Muslims, according to Batten’s document, were meant to sign as a “code of conduct” which would signify that they rejected violence and accepted equality.
The MEP also argued that some Muslim texts also required updating, particularly those bits he claimed say “kill Jews wherever you find them”. He said: “If they say they cannot revise their thinking on those issues, then who’s got the problem – us or them?”
Batten has previously suggested banning halal and kosher slaughter of animals as well as outlawing the legal recognition of Islamic banking in the UK. Speaking in 2010, Batten pledged to end the building of new mosques in the UK, until and unless a non-Muslim place of worship was built in Mecca. (Batten insists on referring to Wahhabi-run Saudi Arabia as the “heartland” of Islam.)
Ex-Ukip MEP Nikki Sinclaire, who joined the party in the 1990s, calls her former colleague an “incredibly paranoid person”.
“Gerard talks about the gradual takeover by the Muslims of Great Britain and sharia law. He has been hell-bent on attacking Muslims.”
Sinclaire claims that Batten is “very good friends” with far-right European politicians like Dutch MP Geert Wilders and Belgium’s Vlaams Belang, adding: “I often see him in the parliament with those MEPs.”