Ulster Unionist MEP Jim Nicholson has warned that rhetoric from EU leaders risks damaging relations, as MEPs discussed the upcoming European Council summit later this month.
Speaking after a European Parliament debate in Strasbourg, Jim Nicholson MEP said:
“Ahead of the European Council summit later this month, I took the opportunity to warn Mr Barnier and Mr Juncker of the importance of the principle of consent, which is at the heart of the Belfast Agreement and re-affirms Northern Ireland’s constitutional position within the United Kingdom.
“This is the fundamental flaw with any ‘backstop’ option which would create new barriers between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom. No amount of ‘de-dramatisation’ can camouflage the fact that it would undermine the constitutional integrity of the United Kingdom and therefore the principle of consent which is central to the Belfast Agreement.
“Both the rhetoric and the actions of EU leaders over the past year in the Brexit negotiations has been deeply unhelpful, and actually risks damaging relations and the prospect of any hope for a good deal.
“Mr Juncker today repeated his ‘Ireland first’ mantra. I took the opportunity to remind him that as an elected representative for Northern Ireland, I will put Northern Ireland first and that means safeguarding our position as an integral part of the United Kingdom with our sovereignty intact.”