Boris Johnson criticised after praising Northern Ireland’s single market access

The Prime Minister has praised his Withdrawal Agreement as a "great deal" for Northern Ireland because it keeps "access to the single market" – despite wanting to pull the rest of the UK out.

Speaking to Conservatives in Northern Ireland, Boris Johnson talked up his exit terms with the European Union for its ability to keep single market access and free movement for Northern Ireland.

Mr Johnson, in a video posted on Twitter by Manufacturing NI, said: "Northern Ireland has got a great deal. You keep free movement, you keep access to the single market but you also have, as it says in the deal, unfettered access to GB."

The Liberal Democrats have criticised the PM following his comments for wanting to treat the six counties differently to the rest of Britain.

His Brexit deal with the EU will see Britain leave the single market and customs union but with Northern Ireland following different rules to prevent a hard border.

Tom Brake, the Lib Dems' Brexit spokesman, said: "The single market and freedom of movement are a great deal – even Boris Johnson recognises this.

"So why isn't he keeping them for the whole of the UK as part of the many benefits of EU membership?

"It is clear that the best deal for the UK is the one we have now – in the EU," said the anti-Brexit politician.

Mr Johnson also appeared to contradict evidence given by Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay by telling supporters that goods between Northern Ireland and Great Britain would not face checks as a result of his Brexit agreement.

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Boris Johnson visits crisps factory in NI
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Boris Johnson visits crisps factory in NI
ARMAGH, NORTHERN IRELAND - NOVEMBER 07: Prime Minister Boris Johnson (L) interacts with staff during a general election campaign visit to the Tayto Castle crisp factory on November 07, 2019 in County Armagh, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom. (Photo by Daniel Leal-Olivas - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson (C) gestures as he helps quality control staff during a general election campaign visit to the Tayto Castle crisp factory in County Armagh, Northern Ireland, on November 7, 2019. - Britain's two main parties promised billions of pounds of investment for hospitals, schools and infrastructure on Thursday as they seek to woo voters weary of austerity ahead of the December 12 general election. (Photo by Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS / POOL / AFP) (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
ARMAGH, NORTHERN IRELAND - NOVEMBER 07: Prime Minister Boris Johnson helps to pack crisps during a general election campaign visit to the Tayto Castle crisp factory on November 07, 2019 in County Armagh, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom. (Photo by Daniel Leal-Olivas - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
ARMAGH, NORTHERN IRELAND - NOVEMBER 07: Prime Minister Boris Johnson (C) checks a potato as he helps quality control staff during a general election campaign visit to the Tayto Castle crisp factory on November 07, 2019 in County Armagh, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom. (Photo by Daniel Leal-Olivas - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
ARMAGH, NORTHERN IRELAND - NOVEMBER 07: Prime Minister Boris Johnson helps to pack crisps beside Tayto Chairman Stephen Hutchinson (L) during a general election campaign visit to the Tayto Castle crisp factory on November 07, 2019 in County Armagh, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom. (Photo by Daniel Leal-Olivas - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
ARMAGH, NORTHERN IRELAND - NOVEMBER 07: Prime Minister Boris Johnson gestures as he helps to pack crisps beside Tayto Chairman Stephen Hutchinson (L) during a general election campaign visit to the Tayto Castle crisp factory on November 07, 2019 in County Armagh, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom. (Photo by Daniel Leal-Olivas - WPA Pool/Getty Images) beside Tayto Chairman Stephen Hutchinson (R) during a general election campaign visit to the Tayto Castle crisp factory on November 07, 2019 in County Armagh, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom. (Photo by Daniel Leal-Olivas - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
ARMAGH, NORTHERN IRELAND - NOVEMBER 07: Prime Minister Boris Johnson (C) helps quality control staff during a general election campaign visit to the Tayto Castle crisp factory on November 07, 2019 in County Armagh, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom. (Photo by Daniel Leal-Olivas - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
ARMAGH, NORTHERN IRELAND - NOVEMBER 07: Prime Minister Boris Johnson helps to pack crisps during a general election campaign visit to the Tayto Castle crisp factory on November 07, 2019 in County Armagh, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom. (Photo by Daniel Leal-Olivas - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
ARMAGH, NORTHERN IRELAND - NOVEMBER 07: Prime Minister Boris Johnson tastes a crisp beside Tayto Chairman Stephen Hutchinson (R) during a general election campaign visit to the Tayto Castle crisp factory on November 07, 2019 in County Armagh, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom. (Photo by Daniel Leal-Olivas - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a visit to Tayto Castle crisp factory, Tandragee, County Armagh, while on the General Election campaign trail. (Photo by Stefan Rousseau/PA Images via Getty Images)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a visit to Tayto Castle crisp factory, Tandragee, County Armagh, while on the General Election campaign trail. (Photo by Stefan Rousseau/PA Images via Getty Images)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a visit to Tayto Castle crisp factory, Tandragee, County Armagh, while on the General Election campaign trail. PA Photo. Picture date: Thursday November 7, 2019. See PA story POLITICS Election. Photo credit should read: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire (Photo by Stefan Rousseau/PA Images via Getty Images)
ARMAGH, NORTHERN IRELAND - NOVEMBER 07: Prime Minister Boris Johnson gestures as he helps quality control staff during a general election campaign visit to the Tayto Castle crisp factory on November 07, 2019 in County Armagh, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom. (Photo by Daniel Leal-Olivas - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson (L) gestures besides Tayto Chairman Stephen Hutchinson (R) during a general election campaign visit to the Tayto Castle crisp factory in County Armagh, Northern Ireland, on November 7, 2019. - Britain's two main parties promised billions of pounds of investment for hospitals, schools and infrastructure on Thursday as they seek to woo voters weary of austerity ahead of the December 12 general election. (Photo by Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS / POOL / AFP) (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson (C) gestures as he helps quality control staff during a general election campaign visit to the Tayto Castle crisp factory in County Armagh, Northern Ireland, on November 7, 2019. - Britain's two main parties promised billions of pounds of investment for hospitals, schools and infrastructure on Thursday as they seek to woo voters weary of austerity ahead of the December 12 general election. (Photo by Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS / POOL / AFP) (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a visit to Tayto Castle crisp factory, Tandragee, County Armagh, while on the General Election campaign trail. (Photo by Stefan Rousseau/PA Images via Getty Images)
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Mr Barclay had told MPs that "minimal targeted interventions" would be required on some goods travelling between the two areas of the UK, due to Northern Ireland remaining aligned with Dublin and Brussels rules for the trade of goods.

But the Conservative Party leader said his Government would "not enact such checks".

"There will not be tariffs or checks on goods coming from GB to Northern Ireland that are not going on to Ireland," he said on Thursday.

"There will not be checks – and I speak as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and a passionate Unionist.

"There will not be checks on goods going from Northern Ireland to Great Britain because we are the Government of the United Kingdom and we will not institute or implement or enact such checks.

"And the idea that Tayto crisps from Tandragee are going to be vetted by some process, it is just nonsense."

He also said that Brussels was forthcoming with a Brexit deal because European leaders feared the repercussions of Britain making the "irrational decision" to leave without a deal.

"Even though they could see what the Benn Act was doing to us and how difficult it was, they were not quite sure whether the UK Government was going to be sufficiently irrational, as they saw it, as to come out with (no-deal)," he added.

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