Ulster Unionist MEP Jim Nicholson has warned EU leaders that the attitude of Brussels and Dublin to Brexit talks is ‘putting a strain on relationships and risks hardening opinion on all sides.’
The comments come as MEPs met in Strasbourg to discuss the current state of play in the negotiations. Mr Nicholson and Ulster Unionist Party leader Robin Swann will meet with Michel Barnier and Guy Verhofstadt in Strasbourg tomorrow.
Speaking after the debate, Mr Nicholson said:
“Two weeks ago, the Commission published its draft withdrawal agreement, containing proposals for Northern Ireland which - at best - show a disregard of the Belfast Agreement and the principle of consent. At worst they read as an attempt to use Brexit to pull Northern Ireland away from the United Kingdom.
“Then last week, Leo Varadkar and Donald Tusk chose to dismiss the Prime Minister’s reasonable call for talks between Brussels, Dublin and London on the border issue.
“This kind of attitude is putting a strain on relationships and risks hardening opinion on all sides. They are playing a high stakes game with the United Kingdom, and with Northern Ireland in particular, but they are in serious danger of overplaying their hand.
“We should all have a shared aim - a deep and comprehensive future relationship between the UK and the EU. That is in the best interests of all sides. It is also 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. We can only achieve this if all sides work together.
“We will be raising these points with Michel Barnier and Guy Verhofstadt tomorrow.”