OPINION PIECE BY JOHN MORTIMER – LEADER, BRITISH UNION AND SOVEREIGNTY PARTY
One of the most vital arguments behind leaving the European Union was to reclaim control of our borders. Why then do UKIP, Tory Brexiteers and the DUP all insist that our one land border with a neighbouring country remains entirely open and unchecked?
That’s a serious question and the fact that it has been entirely absent from public debate says a lot about just why we refuse to get involved in the post-referendum circus or throw our weight behind the likes of UKIP or Jacob-Rees Mogg. Kipperish, Tory-lite Brexiteers were always stuck in the post 60s mantra of borderless Britain and this is abundantly clear in their proposed borderless Brexit.
One great litmus test in this regard is the ‘Irish border question’. The Republic of Ireland is the one country with which the United Kingdom shares a land border. And now UKIP, Tory Brexiteers and the DUP, having campaigned to leave the EU on the grounds that we must control our borders, turn round and tell us that our sole border should remain an entirely open border!
According to UKIP, Rees-Mogg types and the DUP this is “controlling our borders”!
They take this position on the grounds that Britain and the Republic of Ireland have an open border area, the Common Travel Area, that predates the EU by several decades. And that much is true. Their reasoning however falls apart when one considers that the Common Travel Area was only ever instituted on the condition that the Irish Republic would exactly mirror British immigration policy and form a common immigration area, for obvious reasons. And they did so from the 1920s through till the present day, and both nations have of course been part of the European open borders project now for several decades with common mass immigration policies.
If however Britain leaves the EU and wishes to end decades of mass immigration, and the Irish Republic continues its present course of both EU membership and mass immigration, then obviously the common immigration policy that the Common Travel Area depends upon is no longer there. What on earth is the point in leaving the EU only to maintain a sizeable, entirely open and unchecked land border with a neighbouring country that is part of the EU and which is open to free movement from the entire continent?
What would be the point of patrol vessels in the English channel or border guards at British ports and airports when any European (or non-European) immigrant could simply stroll into the United Kingdom from the Republic of Ireland across a non-existent border?
In the unlikely event of some sort of Tory-UKIP coalition government pushing through a Kipperish, Tory-lite borderless Brexit, Northern Ireland would become the gateway into Britain for the entire continent of Europe and any other non-European immigrant able to make the borderless journey to the Republic of Ireland. And they wouldn’t need to produce so much as a drivers licence to enter the United Kingdom!
The DUP, who are stuck in a sort of parochial Ulster nationalism rather than a UK Unionist perspective, should know better. They very rightly complain at the different treatment Northern Ireland has been shown through May’s backstop proposals, which would force the region into regulatory alignment with the Irish Republic. And yet at the same time they call for their own special little arrangement with the Irish Republic when it comes to the border question; to be part of the UK yet to blur seamlessly into a neighbouring country to the extent that you would not even know when you do cross over into the United Kingdom.
As UK Unionists our position is clear. The Irish border is not some regional issue for the DUP, Sinn Fein and the Irish government to demand their own ambiguous arrangement over. That ‘Irish border’ is the United Kingdom border; it is an international border and it is therefore important. It must be visibly staffed, secure and apply customs and identity checks on an entry/exit basis.
Unless Ulster Unionists are happy to see passports checks introduced when crossing the Irish Sea (and that did happen as a result of the Common Travel Area for a brief period following the Second World War when Irish and British immigration policy diverged) then they must accept that they are part of a common immigration, free movement area called the United Kingdom, and separate from the Irish Republic’s. The only other alternative is that we continue to be borderless Britain, and allow unchecked immigration into the United Kingdom whether or not we leave the EU.
We have always been deeply critical of the sort of hollow Brexit proposed by UKIP and Tory Brexiteers. We are uninterested in the post-referendum circus. All the Leave figureheads are fully signed up supporters of the ‘New Britain’: multicultural, secular, service sector, open border and entirely uninterested in all the responsibilities and functions of nationhood. If they dispute this, ask them what is their stance on the United Kingdom’s sole land border?
While the post-referendum circus rolls on, we will continue to stay out of it and state what we have stated clearly all along: that the only way to leave the EU and reclaim meaningful national sovereignty is to elect a majority of MPs committed to doing so. MPs elected on a manifesto that recognises the unitary, indivisible nationhood of the United Kingdom and its territorial integrity.
That’s why we stand on a broad manifesto to rebuild Britain as a Sovereign, Industrial, Unitary, Democratic and Functional country; a Britain that is something like the country that we used to know.
You can visit the website for British Union and Sovereignty Party here.