Confirmation Brexit report was not shared with wider Executive

Alliance Leader David Ford has confirmed neither he or colleague Stephen Farry were consulted over an Executive report detailing how Brexit would be detrimental to the local economy.

The report, discovered by the Detail investigative website, was written in May 2015 by the European Policy and Co-ordination Unit in the Office of First Minister and deputy First Minister. The 15-page document raised concerns over the UK’s future relationship with the EU and questions over the Irish border, saying it would become an external EU border. It also said Brexit risked widening the gap between richer and poorer areas, particularly in Northern Ireland.

Mr Ford, who was Justice Minister at the time, said neither he nor colleague Stephen Farry, also an Executive Minister then, had been privy to the paper.

“It appears this document came as a result of a purely civil servant process, which did not lead to a political discussion around the Executive table at the time. Questions need to be asked as to why that was the case and why other Ministers within the Executive were not shown the evidence produced.

“If it had been made public, perhaps it would have changed some minds in the lead-up to the EU referendum. Instead, we got untruths and misconceptions from the Leave campaign. It is not too much to ask for Departments to articulate a truthful message to the public and not keep it hidden as it doesn’t follow your preferred narrative.

“What is clear from the OFMDFM document is the risks involved with Brexit were well known in advance. The First Minister and deputy First Minister have a duty to explain their role in allowing this situation to develop.”

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