Alliance MLA Stewart Dickson has reiterated his party’s call for a second referendum on the terms of the UK’s exit from the EU, as the last Europe Day before Brexit is marked.
Mr Dickson said while the day was being celebrated across the continent, in the UK the future of our co-operation with the EU remained unclear thanks to the UK Government’s approach to Brexit negotiations.
“While Alliance is opposed to Brexit in all its forms, we respect democracy and recognise Leave won the referendum. However, we also strongly believe Brexit is an act of enormous economic, social and political self-harm for the UK as a whole and Northern Ireland in particular. Northern Ireland voted to remain and we must recognise that, particularly given the unique circumstances of this region.
“Neither did people vote to leave either or both of the single market or customs union. Therefore, a second referendum should be held on the terms of the UK’s exit from the EU. Democracy is not a democracy unless people have the capacity to change their mind. Almost two years on from the vote, many more people now recognise the full facts and impact Brexit will have on our economy to our politics and relationships with international partners.
“The EU has brought and continues to bring many positives to our everyday lives. From easier travel across the continent and better access to justice to free healthcare across Europe and more opportunities for our young people, that is only the tip of the iceberg on the benefits we see daily thanks to European co-operation.
“All of that is now up in the air because of Brexit and the UK Government’s approach to the ongoing negotiations. Avoiding a hard Brexit while having a special deal for Northern Ireland to reflect our circumstances can help us avoid the lasting damage Brexit will otherwise create, and the Government must realise that.”