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Ever wanted to hear Boris Johnson say the sentence: ‘You can’t suck and blow at once?’

Neither did we.

But we were treated to that during his interview on Radio 4 this morning, when he also made the astute observation that ‘there’s no border between Camden and Westminster’, when discussing the Republic of Ireland.

The council border is a ‘very relevant comparison’, the Foreign Secretary claimed.

He dismissed concerns that leaving the EU customs union after Brexit could lead to a hard Irish border, by suggesting that crossings of the frontier could be monitored by technology like travel between London boroughs (apparently referring to the congestion charge).

No problems with that idea, nope, none at all.

He said Jeremy Corbyn was ‘wrong’ to back a customs union with Brussels, as it would leave Britain a ‘colony’ of the EU in a situation that would be the ‘worst of all worlds’.

Mr Johnson told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘You can’t suck and blow at once, as they say, we’re going to have to come out of the customs union in order to be able to do free trade deals.’

Boris Johnson tells the nation 'you can't suck and blow at once'
Are you sure you can’t? (Picture: EPA)

The EU is set to publish a legal document promising to avoid a hard Irish border on Wednesday.

Mr Johnson dismissed the idea that border posts could be erected in Ireland if there was no customs union.

‘There’s no border between Camden and Westminster, but when I was mayor of London we anaesthetically and invisibly took hundreds of millions of pounds from the accounts of people travelling between those two boroughs without any need for border checks whatever,’ he said.

‘It’s a very relevant comparison because there’s all sorts of scope for pre-booking, electronic checks, all sorts of things that you can do to obviate the need for a hard border to allow us to come out of the customs union, take back control of our trade policy and do trade deals.’

When I was a young boy we were told to stay away from the Troubles on the Caledonian Rd & marching bands in Regent's Park. The Chalk Farm Peace Agreement has brought peace in our time. People can get the tube from Camden Town to Finsbury Park without being searched at the border. https://t.co/Mok7Byylju

— David Lammy (@DavidLammy) February 27, 2018

Responding, Labour anti-Brexit MP David Lammy tweeted ‘God help us all this isn’t just stupidity and ignorance but wilful recklessness’.

And Walthamstow Labour MP Stella Creasy wrote: ‘A foreign secretary who literally has no conception of what foreign actually means – that is what brexit has brought us to as a nation. Please, please JUST MAKE IT STOP….’

Mr Johnson spoke as International Trade Secretary Liam Fox prepared to give a speech in which he will describe Mr Corbyn’s plan to stay in the customs union as ‘a complete sell-out of Britain’s national interests’ which will leave the UK in a worse position than it is now.

Stumbling, bumbling @borisjohnson compares north & south of Ireland with Islington & Camden on @r4Today while trying to explain his frictionless border without a Customs Union. Unbelievable!

— Paul Blomfield (@PaulBlomfieldMP) February 27, 2018

In the latest of the Cabinet’s ‘road to Brexit’ speeches in London, Dr Fox will warn Tory rebels that the arrangement would constrain the UK from taking advantage of future trade opportunities and leave the country as ‘rule-takers’ from Brussels.

But his argument was dismissed by the former top civil servant in his department, who said leaving the customs union to strike free trade deals around the world was like ‘giving up a three-course meal for the promise of a packet of crisps’.

Sir Martin Donnelly, who left his role as permanent secretary at the Department of International Trade last year, said any divergence from Brussels’ rules would deal a blow to British services which would not be compensated for through deals with nations such as the US.

He said: ‘You just have to look at the arithmetic – it doesn’t add up I’m afraid.’

MORE: Brexit is like ‘swapping three-course meal for packet of crisps’

MORE: Jeremy Corbyn sets out Brexit plans for customs union and single market

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