Ulster Unionist MEP Jim Nicholson has said there needs to be a serious refocusing of minds in order to avoid a no deal Brexit, which would be the worst potential outcome for both the EU and the UK.
Commenting after Prime Minister’s visit to Brussels, Mr Nicholson said:
“There needs to be a serious refocusing of minds and a move away from the unhelpful language and tone we have heard in recent days.
“I, along with many others across society, have reiterated time and again, that the current Backstop proposal is not acceptable, as it directly contradicts the principle of consent enshrined in the 1998 Belfast Agreement.
“The current Withdrawal Agreement was emphatically rejected by the UK Parliament. And as a result, the Prime Minister must now seek legally binding alternatives which respect the economic and constitutional integrity of the United Kingdom, not least the Belfast Agreement and the principle of consent.
“If the EU is serious about achieving a deal, it needs to take a pragmatic approach in its discussions with the Prime Minister which has hitherto been lacking. The EU asked for a position from Parliament, and now they have it.
“We need a more constructive approach, a move away from the inflammatory language we have heard in recent days and a refocusing of minds.
“Any negotiations should be done away from the cameras and the microphones, so it is now up to the Prime Minister and the EU to work constructively in order to reach a deal acceptable to both the UK and EU. Northern Ireland`s position as an integral part of the United Kingdom is not up for debate and cannot be used to punish the UK for deciding to leave the EU.
“A no deal Brexit would be hugely damaging to both the EU and the UK, and as time is short, an extension to Article 50 must not be ruled out if a workable deal is to be reached.”