The last few months have seen a procession Brexit supporting British politicians making outrageous comments about Ireland.
Some of the worst examples include comments such as the Irish should know their place that the threat of food shortages should be used to ensure that Ireland helped facilitate a good Brexit deal for Britain. And of course, there was the much criticised comments from Stanley Johnson that the Irish should be left to shoot each other if they didn’t toe the line over the Northern Ireland border.
Most of these comments have not only angered people in Ireland, they also caused outrage among more moderate thinking people in the UK.
All the comments mentioned above were widely condemned by British people on social media. Now, two anti-Brexit politicians have gone so far as to apologise to Ireland for their behaviour of their colleagues.
Conservative MP Anna Soubry was first to express her dismay at the comments from hard Brexiters when she was interviewed on Morning Ireland. She called on her fellow party members to “grow up” and start thinking of the future. As for their comments on Ireland, she said: “I can only apologise for the atrocious behaviour of my colleagues.”
Her anti-Brexit colleague Philip Lee was in similar conciliatory mood when he appeared on the same show a day later.
When asked about the comments from some of his colleagues he said: “Can I apologise for this? I’m embarassed that British politicians are being quoted, often anonymously, implying that it is Ireland that’s the problem and that Ireland needs to know its place. I most certainly don’t think that.
“I think the reality is that people are realising, when you voluntarily choose to leave a club, you can’t dictate the terms about having a relationship with that club. Ireland is a part of that club, and quite rightly, the club are trying to make sure that Ireland is secure and that the union is secure.
“The British politicians who think it isn’t really do need to wake up.”
It’s the issue of the Northern Ireland backstop that has led to some of the more outlandish comments from British politicians.
The highly controversial backstop means that the UK will have to remain in a customs arrangement with the EU indefinitely to avoid a hard border between the North and the Republic if no better solution is found over the next few years as a future trade deal is negotiated.