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Jim Nicholson MEP meets EU Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier

Ulster Unionist MEP Jim Nicholson has called on the UK Government to maintain its commitments that the final Brexit deal will not compromise the constitutional integrity of the United Kingdom, and urged the European Commission to respect the principle of consent, which is at the heart of the Belfast Agreement.

The comments come after Mr Nicholson met with EU Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier in Strasbourg today.

Jim Nicholson MEP said:

“We are approaching yet another crunch time in Brexit negotiations with the next European Council summit due to take place later this month.

“We have been clear from the start that Brexit must not create a situation whereby Northern Ireland is cut off from the rest of the United Kingdom, which is the logical conclusion of the so-called “backstop” as published by the European Commission in March.

“It is absolutely vital that the UK Government stands firm on its commitment that Brexit will not be used to jeopardise the constitutional integrity of the United Kingdom.

“Much has been made of the need for the UK Government to commit to pragmatic solutions to the border issue, but this is also true of the European Commission which needs to understand the fact that the principle of consent is at the heart of the Belfast Agreement, and that the UK single market is absolutely vital to Northern Ireland’s economy.

“I was glad of the opportunity to raise these points today as I met with EU Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier. He has previously said that it is important all voices in Northern Ireland are heard and I always welcome the opportunity to express and promote the unionist point of view.

Ulster Unionists