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EU in danger of overplaying its hand – Jim Nicholson MEP

Ulster Unionist MEP Jim Nicholson has warned that the latest comments from EU Council President Donald Tusk are unhelpful and risk damaging relationships. Mr Nicholson called on EU leaders and the Irish Government to work positively with the UK Government.

Ulster Unionist Party leader Robin Swann will join MEP Jim Nicholson in Strasbourg next Wednesday for meetings with EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier, and European Parliament Brexit coordinator Guy Verhofstadt MEP.

Jim Nicholson MEP said:

“It is very frustrating that just a few days after the Prime Minister’s Mansion House speech, in which there was a softening of tone and clear willingness to work together to find workable solutions, Brussels and Dublin have hardened their attitude.

“Not only are Donald Tusk’s latest comments unhelpful, like other recent heightened rhetoric from EU negotiators and the Irish Government, they are putting strain on relationships and risk causing a hardening of opinion on all sides.

“They are trying to play a high stakes game with the United Kingdom, but they are at serious risk of overplaying their hand. We should all be aiming for a deep and comprehensive future relationship between the UK and the EU. That is in the best interests of all sides, and is the best way to deliver a Brexit that is reasonable, avoids a hard border and upholds the constitutional integrity of the United Kingdom and the Belfast Agreement. But I fear that this increasingly aggressive attitude from the EU could end up making the delivery of that aim much more difficult.

“As the Prime Minister said, of course it would be wrong for the UK to abdicate its responsibilities and insist the EU alone finds a solution, but it is equally wrong to insist it should be left to the UK to solve.  EU leaders and the Irish Government must show a willingness to sit around the table and engage positively with the UK Government.

“We will be raising these issues directly with Michel Barnier, Guy Verhofstadt and others in Strasbourg next Wednesday.”

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