Boris Johnson will be the first UK prime minister – if re-elected – to enter office with the union under peril, the leader of the Ulster Unionist Party has claimed.
Steve Aiken, of the Northern Ireland party with historic links to the Conservatives, said he hopes Mr Johnson is not re-elected as an MP next month.
He blasted the British Prime Minister’s proposed Brexit withdrawal deal as threatening to make Northern Ireland “a place apart” due to the proposed regulatory border.
The Democratic Unionist Party – which was in a confidence and supply agreement with the Conservatives in the last Parliament – backed Mr Johnson’s original offer to the EU which would have meant Northern Ireland diverging from the UK on some regulations, but only with a unionist veto.
However, Mr Johnson later agreed a deal with the EU which will mean Northern Ireland diverging on regulations and customs without a unionist veto, and the DUP have been strongly critical of that deal.
“The DUP on October 2 agreed to a border down the Irish Sea, that allowed Boris Johnson to march in with his withdrawal deal and if the withdrawal deal goes through, Northern Ireland will well and truly be a place apart,” Mr Aiken said.
“But Boris Johnson’s activities are not just affecting Northern Ireland, they are affecting the entirety of the United Kingdom, and he is probably going to be the first prime minister if he gets re-elected – which I hope he doesn’t – he is going to be the first prime minister that comes back in a situation where the future of the union itself is under threat.”