Following the Ulster Unionist Party`s meeting with the Prime Minister, Party Leader Robin Swann MLA, has called for direct rule in the event of a no deal Brexit. In response to remarks made by Donald Tusk and Sammy Wilson, he has called for cool heads instead of harsh words.
Mr Swann said:
“We made very clear to the Prime Minister that if there is to be no deal on 29 March, then the Government must move swiftly to implement direct rule. We have always been clear that we don`t want to see a no deal outcome, however, if that is where we end up, Northern Ireland needs political leadership and accountability.
“This has gone on too long. It is clear that Sinn Fein have no interest in restoring devolution or even entering talks to do so. They can`t use the excuse of the inability of themselves and the DUP to reach agreement last year to hold everyone back. The Secretary of State should move to instigate five party talks, as she promised when she took up office, and if some parties do not want to participate, that`s up to them. They will be self-excluding. It was done at the time of the Belfast Agreement negotiations, so there`s no reason why it can`t be done now.
“We have heard all sorts of descriptions about what will be done about the backstop – whether that`s replacement, changes or alternatives to it. The Ulster Unionist Party is clear. The backstop is a direct challenge to the Belfast Agreement and the principle of consent. The EU and the Irish Government are wilfully misrepresenting the Belfast Agreement and dismissing the genuine concerns of Unionists who were part and parcel of negotiating the agreement, without which there would have been no peace.
“Their approach is continuing to sour relationships across these islands. Leo Varadkar and Donald Tusk may find Mr Tusk`s uncouth words amusing, but they are no laughing matter. They may feel they are flexing some EU muscle, but the increasingly arrogant and confrontational approach they have adopted could ultimately lead to disaster socially and economically. It`s time for cool heads instead of harsh words.”