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Trade negotiations should not gift opportunity to nationalists to undermine the Union

  • Views of devolved administrations should not be excluded from board of trade
  • Trade Secretary should listen to James Brokenshire MP
  • Imperative that Northern Ireland Assembly and Executive are restored

Ulster Unionist Finance spokesperson, Steve Aiken OBE MLA, has made clear that the Trade Secretary, Liam Fox MP, needs to be careful how he proceeds with trade negotiations given weekend reports that he has issued a letter to colleagues which suggests that devolved administrations should not sit on the new board of trade which the Prime Minister has decided to reform.

Steve Aiken OBE MLA said:

"Liam Fox needs to be careful that he doesn't throw the baby out with the bath water as he negotiates future trade deals with the rest of the world following our exit from the EU. If he takes his eye off the ball he could end up damaging the most important Union of all - that between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Proposals that might sideline devolved governments, with them not even having input to the board of trade, are asking for trouble and would only play the into hands of nationalists in Northern Ireland and Scotland whose ultimate aim is to rip the United Kingdom apart. It would appear that the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland has made clear his opposition to such a proposal.

"I would encourage Liam Fox to listen carefully to Cabinet colleagues such as James Brokenshire MP before he makes any rash decisions. We could be feeling the consequences for years to come. It is imperative that the Northern Ireland Assembly and Executive are restored to support the Secretary of State's position in the discussions about the type of future trade deals we want for the benefit of all the people and countries of the United Kingdom. It is absolutely vital that Northern Ireland`s voice is heard in the trade negotiations.

"We do not want Northern Ireland or its agri-sector becoming a sacrificial lamb in trade negotiations. But maybe that's exactly what Sinn Fein are willing to see happen if they don't get their own way on other issues.”

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