DUP conference cheered Boris Johnson in Titanic-themed speech on Brexit

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In an address last November, the future prime minister warned against making Northern Ireland follow rules from Brussels.


Boris Johnson received a rousing reception at the DUP conference when he vowed not to create any new economic borders in the Irish Sea.

Mr Johnson invoked Belfast’s most famous ship as he warned of the consequences of letting Brussels set rules for Northern Ireland.

“The Titanic springs to mind and now is the time to point out the iceberg ahead,” he said last November.

Lambasting the border backstop contained in Theresa May’s withdrawal deal, the former foreign secretary made clear fresh regulatory and customs checks in the Irish Sea would not happen on his watch.

Mr Johnson insisted such a system would leave Northern Ireland as an “economic semi-colony of the EU”.

“I have to tell you no British Conservative government could or should sign up to any such arrangement,” he said to cheers from the audience.

DUP delegates may well have been reflecting on that speech 11 months on as the Prime Minister signed off on a “very good deal” with the EU that will see Northern Ireland follow single market regulations on goods and act as a point of entry for the customs union.


DUP conference 2018
Boris Johnson speaking during the DUP annual conference at the Crown Plaza Hotel in Belfast (Michael Cooper/PA)

Railing against the backstop provision for Northern Ireland to align with EU rules on goods last year, Mr Johnson told the audience at the Crown Plaza hotel in Belfast that Mrs May’s deal would create of a new hybrid nation called Ukni.

“If you read the withdrawal agreement you can see that we are witnessing the birth of a new country called Ukni,” he said.

“This is how Brussels sees it. Ukni is no longer exclusively ruled by London or Stormont.


“Ukni is in large part to be ruled by Brussels.

“And Ukni will have to accept large swathes of EU regulations now and in the future.

“On a whole range of Brussels policy making, lawnmower noise, on the labelling of sardines, on the use of chocolate coins and tokens that may be deemed to resemble a euro.

“I kid you not, check it out.

“And on the use of personal recreational watercraft.

The Titanic Museum – Belfast
A general view of the Titanic Museum on the site of the former Harland & Wolff shipyard in Belfast’s Titanic Quarter (John Walton/PA)

“And, of course, nowhere has a more illustrious history than Northern Ireland when it comes to the creation of recreational watercraft.

“The Titanic springs to mind, and now is the time to point out the iceberg ahead.”

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