Ulster Unionist Party Leader Robin Swann MLA has said that Northern Ireland and the United Kingdom as a whole deserves better than the mess which the Brexit process has descended into.
Robin Swann MLA said:
“The events of the last week in Westminster have underlined the Brexit mess that we have descended into; a wholly avoidable debacle created by a Prime Minister wedded to unachievable red lines, supported by a DUP whose policies now range from crash out, to remain.
“On Friday Nigel Dodds expressed the view that the United Kingdom would be better remaining in the EU rather than risk the integrity of the Union, yet later on Friday evening Sammy Wilson told the Belfast Telegraph that ‘it would be ‘perfectly acceptable’ to leave without a deal if the right agreement could not be achieved.’ Both can`t be right.
“We have repeatedly expressed our opposition to a no deal exit which could create mayhem for businesses and farmers. If we need to have serious discussions about achieving tariff free trade between the United Kingdom and the EU to avoid the potential disaster of leaving without a sensible deal, then that is a discussion that needs to be had. We recently set out our idea of a common travel area for goods that delivers Brexit, and we are very clear that Joint Authority though the backstop is wholly unacceptable.
“It is extraordinary that Nigel Dodds and some parts of the DUP have now done a full u-turn, and if elements of his own party are to be believed, is urging supporting the Ulster Unionist Party`s position.
“Instead of stopping the backstop when they had the opportunity in 2017 or by encouraging the removal of Theresa May’s red-lines, the DUP sought the approval of the extreme wings within the Tory Party and helped foster division there. As we have seen, the only thing Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg now have in common with some DUP MPs, is speaking at their fund raising dinners.
“The DUP need to start listening instead of being caught up in the bright lights of the national stage, and they need to start putting Northern Ireland`s interests and that of the Union first, instead of selfish party political goals. Jim Nicholson, Lord Empey and I repeatedly warned the DUP and the Prime Minister from 2017, when the backstop was first mentioned, of its inherent dangers. Unfortunately they didn`t listen and we even had the spectacle of Ian Paisley MP claiming in the wake of the inclusion of the disastrous backstop in the December 2017 document , that ‘Leo Varadkar was done over by the EU, the UK and the DUP.’ His careless attention to detail and that of his party, is a common theme that ultimately has a detrimental impact on Northern Ireland, its people and the Union.
“Northern Ireland deserves better. We need to build a positive trading relationship with the EU for the future, and we need to strengthen Northern Ireland`s position within the United Kingdom.”