The Chair of the European Movement in Northern Ireland (EMNI) has cautioned that Northern Ireland must be fully and properly represented in Brexit negotiations following the decision by the House of Commons to allow the Prime Minister to trigger Article 50.
On 1st Februrary, MPs voted by a majority of 384 to allow Theresa May to get Brexit negotiations under way, and on the Third Reading, a week later, the draft legislation was approved by 494 votes to 122, and now moves to the House of Lords.
Ian Parsley said that it has become apparent the UK was stumbling towards a hard border on the island of Ireland.
Mr Parsley stated:
“For all their fine words, Theresa May and Enda Kenny will deliver a hard border, with customs and excise checks, if they do not radically change course.
“Northern Ireland did not vote to leave the EU and absolutely nobody in the UK voted to leave the Customs Union. The White Paper is leading us to an outcome where even Turkey would be closer to the EU than the UK would be”.
EMNI also expressed disappointment at recent comments by the secretary of state James Brokenshire who ruled out the possibility of Northern Ireland having special status after Brexit.
Mr Parsley added:
“Given that our exports are more reliant on the EU, that our research networks are closer, and that we all live within a short distance of what would be the new EU frontier, the simple fact that Northern Ireland has distinct interests in terms of the future UK-EU relationship cannot be overstated.
“Northern Ireland must therefore be represented by politicians it elects who can speak for all of us around the table as the new arrangements are worked out. The practical outcome must be that we remain a gateway to the EU, including potentially remaining within the Customs Union as a minimum.”