WALTER CRONXITE, our political editor, on how Croydon’s Tory MP showed himself to be excess baggage when it comes to finding solutions to some of the tougher problems of exiting the EU
It’s not just Labour politicians in Croydon who, to borrow a phrase, make themselves look like twats on Twitter.
Chris Philp, the shrinking violet (not) who is Conservative MP for Croydon South, has been widely ridiculed on social media after he tweeted a picture of a dedicated cul-de-sac road from Switzerland over French territory to Mulhouse-Basel airport, to try to make the case that the Northern Ireland hard border issue is easily resolved through technology.
If Switzerland needs no customs posts at its borders with the EU, Philp’s Boris Johnson-inspired argument seemed to suggest, then a similar solution can be used between the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom after Brexit Day next March.
“This is what EU Customs Union border can look like – Flughafenstrasse in Basel on Swiss (not in CU) French (in CU) border. There is a little sign and a small camera of the kind seen on every high street. There are technical solutions to ensuring no hard border NI/RoI,” Philp tweeted attaching a picture without a customs officer in sight.
Philp sent his tweet on the same weekend that 700,000 people marched through the streets of London calling for a “People’s Vote” on the outcome of the Brexit negotiations.
It seems that a large proportion of those marchers managed to respond to the Tory MP to rip to shreds his erroneous assertion about the lack of Swiss border controls.
Philp has kept his head down and not replied since, although remarkably his ill-informed and misleading tweet remains on his timeline.
Twitter users have festooned Philp’s feed with examples of significant hard border customs infrastructure for a country that has actually signed the European Economic Area agreement, and allows Freedom of Movement.
The customs facilities that Philp suggested did not exist were also shown to ill-informed MP on Twitter.
“Airport Street or Route Douanière de l’aéroport de Bâle which translates as Basel Airport Customs Road leads from Switzerland onto French territory to get to the airport and you can’t get into France that way and the customs post is a kilometre down the road,” one helpful Twitterer explained to Philp.
And many pictures of border customs infrastructure were posted, as well as the near-three-mile queue of lorries which is a regular feature at one German-Swiss border crossing.
Philp has been an MP for more than three years now, although despite the tumultuous times with multiple reshuffles, he remains over-looked for high office by Theresa Mayhem. Having made a complete Toblerone of his Swiss border tweet possibly suggests why.
He certainly failed to impress the public.
“This is my MP. We are doomed!” wrote one.
“There really should be consequences for MPs who deliberately mislead the public in this way,” said another.
“This is embarrassing. You’re an MP, not some waffler down the pub.”
“Hi Chris. You’ve been made to look totally clueless in all the replies. I suggest you actually do research next time before trying to educate others. And then perhaps you can explain what you learned to your Tory colleagues, too. This wilful ignorance does no one any favours.”
But you have to understand Philp’s confusion.
In 2016, he campaigned to keep us in the EU. But now he puts himself forward as an expert on the good reasons to leave.
With “experts” such as this, is it any wonder that the Government’s Brexit negotiations are in meltdown?
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As every Inside Croydon reader should know. Mr Philp has always been economic with the actuality. Even to the extent of this.