Pro-Brexit MP makes an absolute fool of himself with border claims 9 months ago

Pro-Brexit MP makes an absolute fool of himself with border claims

This really is quite the interview.

As Brexit hangs in the balance, talking heads are lining up to say their piece.

One such gentleman goes by the name of Bernard Jenkin, British Conservative MP for Harwich and North Essex.

There have been many, many, many examples of high-ranking politicians making absolute fools of themselves when presented with a live microphone, and we can safely add Jenkin to the list.

In conversation with Kay Burley on Sky News on Thursday morning, Jenkin put forward the notion that any fears that terrorism could resume if checks at the Irish border are implemented in a post-Brexit landscape are "absurd".

"Only 1% of trade crosses the border in Northern Ireland and it's perfectly possible to have a customs and regulatory frontier between the EU and Northern Ireland without having hard infrastructure at the border," he began.

"That's settled. They now say they don't want checks anywhere on the island of Ireland as though somehow they're going to be blowing up things somewhere else. It's absurd."

Burley, to her bemused credit, quickly interjected at this point, asking Jenkin to elaborate on that last remark.

"Well, what they're constantly saying is that there is going to be a resumption of terrorism if, anywhere in Northern Ireland, it is required to check the very small proportion of trade that crosses the frontier between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

"That's absolutely ridiculous. There are checks on the border anyway. The Republic of Ireland often stops buses to check who has crossed the border from Northern Ireland into the Republic, even though there is a common travel area.

"There are checks on movements of livestock between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. They check things to make sure there is no smuggling, to avoid excise duty. And of course there are security checks to make sure there are no arms crossing the border, and drugs.

"So, the idea that there are no checks on the island of Ireland is absolutely absurd," Jenkin summarised.

At which point, Burley asked if he saw any difference between current structures and a potential harder border that could be established post-Brexit, one that could lead to major trouble and unrest.

"That's absolutely right," Jenkin insisted.

"There is no threat. I mean, the idea that there is going to be floods of chlorinated chicken pouring into Northern Irish ports and crossing into Northern Ireland and flooding across the European Union and nobody would know about it or be able to do anything about it; well that's clearly utterly absurd, isn't it?"

Having clearly not related the above to legitimate fears of terrorism - a senior PSNI officer warned just this week that Brexit could provoke "a rallying cry" for dissident republicans, to cite one example - Jenkin was pressed on the matter a final time.

"I'm afraid I think the whole issue has been stoked," he offered.

"The issues that they are concerned about are resolvable, that's the point. They are very serious underlining issues and the Good Friday Agreement is a very important agreement.

"But what is now threatening the Good Friday Agreement is the EU insisting that they should be able to change the Northern Ireland status in the United Kingdom without the consent of the people of Northern Ireland.

"That's a much bigger threat to the Good Friday Agreement."