Alliance in Brexit discussions with Michel Barnier

Alliance Deputy Leader and Brexit Spokesperson Stephen Farry met with EU Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier and other senior Commission officials in Brussels on Monday, where a number of serious issues were discussed.

Speaking after the meeting, Stephen Farry MLA said: “Today was an important opportunity for Alliance to further engage with key decision makers and influencers in relation to Brexit. Within Brussels there is a strong understanding of the problems posed to Northern Ireland by Brexit, which, by contrast, has sadly not been replicated by the UK Government to date.

“In a meeting with Michel Barnier we made three key points. Firstly that there is a plurality of voices in Northern Ireland and while the DUP may have undue influence at present over the UK Government they do not speak for Northern Ireland. Indeed across a range of stakeholders there is growing common ground on a number of key considerations.

“Secondly we stressed that a cross community approach to a special deal is emerging based on Customs Union and Single Market Participation. It is important that such approach is understood as being a practical and pragmatic way forward, consistent with devolution and the principle of consent.

“Thirdly, while we welcomed the backstop solution it should, however, only be regarded as a defensive intervention, encompassing what is necessary to avoid a hard border. By contrast, the future UK – EU relationship is really important to ensure that Northern Ireland does not become an economic and social backwater, with its existing economic model frozen in time, but instead ensures that Northern Ireland is empowered to change and grow.”

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