Brexit Agreement a foundation on which to build, says Farry

Alliance Brexit Spokesperson Stephen Farry MLA has given a cautious welcome to the Joint Report from EU and UK Negotiators on the first phase of the Brexit talks.

He stressed the agreement amounted to a foundation on which to build a workable solution for Northern Ireland, including the potential for Northern Ireland continuing to participate in the Single Market, if the UK as a whole does not now opt for a soft Brexit.

Dr Farry said it was a strong foundation on which to build.

“Any type of Brexit will bring some degree of friction and lost opportunity, but we have to find a solution that works for Northern Ireland society and our economy, and maximises our connectivity and opportunities.

“Within this foundation, there are two absolute planks, namely the protection of the Good Friday Agreement and the avoidance of a hard border on the island of Ireland. The principle of consent and the political integrity of the UK is reinforced in multiple ways.

“On this foundation a range of different scenarios and mechanisms can now be considered. There is logic of the UK as a whole remaining within both the Single Market and Customs Union. If that is not the case, then the space for a specific solution for Northern Ireland becomes inevitable.

“Again, this can take various forms, but for Alliance the cleanest route forward is for Northern Ireland as a region to remain within the Single Market. Such an outcome would be consistent with today’s foundational agreement.

“Northern Ireland can be a bridge to both the UK and European markets, which should not be viewed as mutually exclusive. We must be ambitious, which means protecting and preserving east-west trade links, but also positioning our economy so it can grow and be transformed. We cannot do this through just trying to protect what we have, we must look to Europe and through the EU to the rest of the world, and consider not just the movement of goods but also our service sector and the free movement of EU nationals.

“Today can only be viewed as the beginning. There now must be a much more structured and informed debate and assessment of Northern Ireland’s needs leading to a consensus on the best way forward.”

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