Ulster Unionist leader, Robin Swann MLA, has unequivocally stated that the European Commission`s Draft Withdrawal Agreement is a complete non-starter for Unionists.
Ulster Unionist Party Leader, Robin Swann MLA, said:
“The European Commission`s Draft Withdrawal Agreement, claiming that “the territory of Northern Ireland, excluding the territorial waters of the United Kingdom (the "territory of Northern Ireland"),shall be considered to be part of the customs territory of the Union” ,is nothing short of a move by the EU to annex Northern Ireland. It is a complete non-starter for Unionists. No British Government could accept this. It demonstrates complete and utter contempt for Northern Ireland`s constitutional position and also for the Belfast Agreement.
“What`s the next step for the ‘joint committee’ – demanding that Northern Ireland join the Euro?
“The EU and the Irish Government are playing a very dangerous game over Northern Ireland. It is absolutely clear that Leo Varadkar, supported by Michel Barnier, Guy Verhofstadt and other unelected officials in the EU are seeking to exploit Brexit in pursuit of Irish unity. Those who voted to stay in the EU, didn`t vote to leave the UK and those who voted to leave the EU didn`t vote to leave the UK either.
“Depending on what day of the week it is, the Irish Government and EU spokespeople, claim that they want to defend the Belfast Agreement, yet on another day they quite happily seek to undermine one of its core principles upon which relative peace was brought to Northern Ireland – the principle of consent. Their claims of defending the Belfast Agreement are shown to be nothing more than hollow words. They demonstrate no respect for the Belfast Agreement, and no respect for unionists. Just like Sinn Fein, they cherry pick what they want and ignore the uncomfortable reality of the rest because it doesn’t suit their agenda.
“This continued sabre rattling from the Irish Government and EU officials has the potential to destroy relationships which have been built over decades and further divide what already is a polarised society. They are playing fast and loose with future relationships across these islands.
“I`ve called for cool heads before, but it is clear that either they aren`t listening or they don`t want to hear. They are deliberately ratcheting up the political temperature. That may assist with Fine Gael`s poll ratings in the Republic in advance of a potential election or quench Barnier`s and Verhofstadt`s ambitions for a more federal Europe, but it is totally reckless to sacrifice what has been achieved so far for short term political gain.
“Given that Leo Varadkar and the Irish Government are promoting the interests of nationalists, it is absolutely crucial that Theresa May and her Conservative and Unionist Government promote and defend the interests of all unionists across the United Kingdom and protect the constitutional integrity of our nation.”