Two prominent Catholic politicians have locked horns over the impact of Brexit.
Tory former Cabinet minister Lord Chris Patten has said he does not want Northern Ireland to go back to the days of “shooting and maiming” as he urged the Government to be “very careful” over how Brexit impacts on the border.
The ex-EU commissioner made the call as he delivered a scathing assessment of how withdrawal will hit Britain if it leaves the customs union.
Lord Patten, who chaired a commission into policing in Northern Ireland as part of the peace process, said: “I feel emotionally very strongly about this. I think we did a really good job on the Good Friday Agreement. And I don’t want to go back to the days when people were being shot and maimed.
“There is a simple answer to the Northern Ireland border question and to much else besides. Let’s stay in the customs union.”
The comments came as Lord Patten traded jibes with arch-Brexiteer and fellow Catholic, Jacob Rees-Mogg, who likened opponents of withdrawal to Japanese soldier Hiroo Onoda, who spent 29 years in the jungle because he did not believe the war was over.
Mr Rees-Mogg, who chairs the Conservative pro-Brexit European Research Group, said reneging on the referendum result would be a national humiliation worse than the Suez crisis.
Lord Patten hit back saying Brexiteers lacked the experience to negotiate a trade deal, stating: “One problem is that the ministers who talk about these fictitious trade deals have never negotiated one.
“The closest they have come to a trade deal is the checkout at Waitrose.”
Picture: Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg speaks about Brexit at a Leave Means Leave event at Carlton House Terrace, London. (Stefan Rousseau/PA).