The European Movement in Northern Ireland (EMNI) has said the speech by the British Prime Minister in Florence on 22 September did not put forward any ideas to deal with the border on the island of Ireland as the UK leaves the Customs Union.
Prime Minister Theresa May set out how the UK ‘will be the strongest friend and partner to the EU’ after the UK leaves the EU.
“The UK government, the Irish government and the EU as a whole have been clear that through the process of our withdrawal we will protect progress made in Northern Ireland over recent years – and the lives and livelihoods that depend on this progress.
As part of this, we and the EU have committed to protecting the Belfast Agreement and the Common Travel Area and, looking ahead, we have both stated explicitly that we will not accept any physical infrastructure at the border.
We owe it to the people of Northern Ireland – and indeed to everyone on the island of Ireland – to see through these commitments.
We have also made significant progress on how we look after European nationals living in the UK and British nationals living in the 27 Member States of the EU.”
-British Prime Minister Theresa May
Vice chair of the European Movement UK Richard Corbett MEP, responded:
“[The PM’s offer on] the issue of citizens’ rights… would still mean that EU citizens already living in Britain would enjoy fewer rights than British citizens living in other EU countries, something other EU countries – and the European Parliament which has to ratify any agreement – are unlikely to accept. She still says that British law and British courts alone will protect EU citizens in Britain (though they may “take into account” ECJ rulings), something that won’t reassure Europeans.
“[On Ireland]There were still no ideas put forward about how on earth to have “no physical infrastructure” on the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic if the UK indeed leaves the European customs union, which she reaffirmed her intention of doing.”
EMNI Chair Ian Parsley said the speech failed to deal with the problems caused by a Hard Brexit and was also notable for what it failed to address.
“The Government are still determined to force this Hard Brexit on all of us without actually putting forward concrete solutions to deal with the repercussions of such a venture. Fancy speeches don’t help us. It’s clear that nothing will better the current arrangements we enjoy in Northern Ireland as members of the EU and the Customs Union and Single Market.”