Ulster Unionist MEP Jim Nicholson has criticised leaked proposals from the European Commission that propose Northern Ireland remain in the EU customs union.
Warning that such proposals would amount to placing a border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom, Mr Nicholson pointed out that this would both breach the Belfast Agreement, and be immensely damaging for Northern Ireland’s economic interests.
Jim Nicholson MEP said:
“The European Union has pledged to protect the Belfast Agreement in Brexit talks. That is utterly incompatible with these alleged proposals, which essentially would place an international border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom.
“Economically, placing barriers to trade with Great Britain, and taking us out of the UK single market makes no sense whatsoever. Across all major sectors, our biggest single market for sales is the United Kingdom.
“If Brussels thinks it speaks for Northern Ireland, or that this would somehow be in Northern Ireland’s interests, it can think again.
“Ultimately, it could well become clear that it is the Republic of Ireland which needs to seek special status and derogations from the customs union and internal market rules.
“I met with Secretary of State James Brokenshire and Government officials this week, and I am glad that the UK Government’s position is and will remain that the constitutional integrity of the United Kingdom must be protected.
“What the EU is proposing would risk immense damage to Northern Ireland’s interests and would make a mockery of the Belfast Agreement it has pledged to protect. It is vital that the UK Government maintains a strong line on this.”