Ulster Unionist Party Leader, Robin Swann MLA has stated that further commitments and open letters from the Government on the Withdrawal Agreement are not worth the paper they are written on unless they are contained in a legally binding text.
Robin Swann MLA said:
“From the moment we became fully aware of the potential inclusion of the backstop in talks in December 2017, the Ulster Unionist Party has been warning of its consequences for the economic and constitutional integrity of the United Kingdom.
“While Ian Paisley MP claimed in December 2017 that Leo Varadkar had been ‘done over’ and Arlene Foster claimed that they had ensured that ‘there will be no customs or trade border down the Irish Sea between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom - Northern Ireland will not be separated constitutionally, politically, economically or regulatory from the rest of the United Kingdom’, we wrote to the Prime Minister on 7 December 2017 to express our concerns and did so again in March 2018, in addition to direct communication with Number 10 and the NIO. On each occasion we got responses from the Secretary of State.
“In a letter dated 17 January 2018, Karen Bradley MP committed that ‘the Prime Minister has been clear we will not countenance any proposals that threaten the economic and constitutional integrity of the UK.’
“Then again in correspondence on the 16 April 2018, the Secretary of State said that the Prime Minister has reiterated the Government's commitments ‘including the part ensuring that no regulatory barriers arise between Northern Ireland and Great Britain.’
“Given the Secretary of State`s recent comments offering further commitments, I have to say to Karen Bradley, that unless those commitments are contained in legally binding text, they`re not worth the paper they are written on. I respectfully ask the Secretary of State that she and her Cabinet colleagues should withdraw this proposed Withdrawal Agreement and re-engage in negotiations to get a deal which wholeheartedly respects both the letter and the spirit of their commitments. Otherwise they could be heading for political disaster leading to increased instability both politically and in the financial markets. We want a deal, the country wants a deal, but not a deal where the ransom to pay is the economic and constitutional integrity of the United Kingdom. It`s time to go back to the negotiating table.”