WATCH: Theresa May said leaving the European Union WOULD mean a hard border for Northern Ireland

Posted On: 
1st March 2018

Theresa May has come under fresh pressure over Northern Ireland after a clip surfaced of her saying there would "have to be" a hard border if Britain left the EU.

Theresa May before the referendum discussing the problems Brexit would create for Northern Ireland.

The Prime Minister has repeatedly stressed that she wants to leave the customs union but maintain a "frictionless" border on the island of Ireland. 

She has also made clear she will not accept any EU proposal to keep Northern Ireland in the customs union, a move that would effectively push the future UK-EU border to the Irish Sea.

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But in an interview before the referendum, uncovered by the Open Britain campaign group, the then home secretary spelled out the difficulties a Leave vote would entail for the province.

"Just think about it - if we’re out of the EU with tariffs on exporting goods into the EU there’d have to be something to recognise that between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland," she told BBC News.

"And if we pulled out of the EU and came out of free movement then how could you have a situation where there’s an open border with a country that’s in the EU and had access to free movement?"

Former Labour frontbencher Chuka Umunna, who is one of Open Britain's most prominent supporters, said Mrs May should come clean on her position when she delivers a big speech on Brexit tomorrow.

“Before the referendum, before she became Prime Minister, and before she was dependent on the DUP to drive through her plans for a hard Brexit, Theresa May told the truth: if we leave the Customs Union and the Single Market there will be a hard border in Ireland.

“It is imperative that Mrs May uses her ‘Road to Brexit’ speech tomorrow to be honest with the people of our country about what the consequences of her hard Brexit policy are. She needs to drop the dishonesty and face down the extreme Brexiters in her party."

At Prime Minister's Questions yesterday Mrs May underlined that she would not accept the "backstop" solution proposed by the EU to keep Northern Ireland in the customs union.

“The draft legal text the Commission has published would, if implemented, undermine the United Kingdom common market and threaten the constitutional integrity of the United Kingdom by creating a custom and regulatory border down the Irish Sea," she said.

"No UK prime minister could ever agree to it. I will be making it crystal clear to President Juncker and others that we will never do so."