Julia Hartley-Brewer has said that throwing Northern Ireland “under a bus” was a “price worth paying” to “deliver Brexit”.
On her TalkRadio show on Friday morning, the outspoken Brexiteer told Labour MP Graham Stringer that she would “hold [her] hands up” and admit that peace on the island of Ireland was worth imperilling in order to get Brexit done.
Julia Hartley-Brewer just said:— Femi (@Femi_Sorry) June 11, 2021
"Many worried that Northern Ireland had effectively been thrown under a bus to deliver Brexit for the rest of the UK. I, as a Brexiteer, hold my hands up to that, as a price worth paying." – @JuliaHB1
These people call themselves patriots. pic.twitter.com/JEKTYrhCAl
Her intervention comes as Boris Johnson has suggested the European Union is taking an “excessively burdensome” approach to post-Brexit trading arrangements for Northern Ireland.
The prime minister, who signed the Brexit divorce deal which included the Northern Ireland protocol, insisted he is not trying to back out of the agreement.
But he said the UK’s “internal market” has to be respected and “we just need to make it work”.
The EU has threatened to launch a trade war against Britain if it fails to implement checks on goods entering Northern Ireland under the terms of the Brexit “divorce” settlement – which Johnson signed.
The prospect of a “sausage war” trade dispute came after Brexit minister Lord Frost refused to rule out the possibility that the UK could unilaterally delay imposing checks on British-made chilled meats which are due to come into force at the end of the month.
The protocol effectively keeps Northern Ireland in the European single market in order to avoid a hard border with Ireland, meaning a trade barrier in the Irish Sea for goods crossing from Great Britain.
Johnson, who will hold talks with EU leaders over the course of the G7 summit, told the BBC: “You will understand that there are ways of enforcing the Protocol, ways of making it work, that may be excessively burdensome.
“I just give you one statistic: 20 per cent of the checks conducted across the whole of the perimeter of the EU are now done in Northern Ireland, three times as many as happen in Rotterdam.”
The new post-Brexit arrangements came into effect on 1 January and the dispute is still simmering, but Johnson insisted “I think we can sort it out”.
US President Joe Biden, who has Irish ancestry, is taking a close interest in the dispute and has warned against anything that could destabilise the arrangements put in place by the Good Friday Agreement.
The Brexit dispute has inflamed tensions for unionists in Northern Ireland, who dislike barriers with Great Britain.
The White House has indicated Biden has deep concerns about the situation – and Mr Johnson’s Government’s approach to it – but the prime minister has played down the prospect of a rift.
“The president didn’t say anything of the kind,” he told the BBC following their talks on Thursday.
“But what I think you can certainly say… is that everybody – and that includes me, includes our friends in Brussels, it includes Washington – everybody has a massive interest in making sure that we keep the essential symmetry of the Good Friday Agreement, we keep the balance.”