WATCH: Former Brexit minister accuses EU of trying to ‘annex Northern Ireland’
Former minister David Jones has accused Brussels of trying to annex Northern Ireland through its latest Brexit offer.
In a draft deal set to be published by the EU today Northern Ireland would effectively remain in a customs union with the bloc in order to avoid the need for a hard border with the Republic of Ireland.
The Prime Minister is expected to reject the proposals, with Number 10 sources telling the Times Mrs May will not agree to a deal that threatens “the constitutional integrity of the UK”.
Today Mr Jones – who served as a minister in the Brexit department until June last year – lashed out at EU officials over the offer, accusing them of “living in a fantasy land”.
Speaking on Radio 4’s Today programme, he said: “The proposal that I understand is going to be coming from the European Union today is completely unacceptable."
Adding that it “effectively amounts to an annexure of Northern Ireland by the European Union”.
The draft deal would mean the Prime Minister agreeing to legal commitments preventing a hard border on the island of Ireland - even if that could mean effectively placing a border in the Irish Sea.
It is also expected to say that the European Court of Justice must have the power to “interpret and enforce” the withdrawal agreement in the face of UK objections.
“They are living in fantasy land if they think this is something we are willing to accept,” Mr Jones said.
Asked how the deal would affect peace in the region, he replied: “I think that it would be pretty catastrophic and I think that the European Union in actually proposing this is behaving wholly irresponsibly.”
Meanwhile Boris Johnson sparked a fresh row last night after he appeared to concede that Brexit may lead to the return of a hard border in Ireland in a letter to Mrs May that was leaked to Sky News.
But Number 10 insisted there was no plan to contemplate a return to a hard border.