Dickson says we are missing chance to have a say on EU withdrawal

Alliance MLA Stewart Dickson has said Northern Ireland is missing its chance to have a say on EU withdrawal thanks to the ongoing political impasse.

The EU Withdrawal Bill, which began its Parliamentary passage in the House of Commons today, is the main Brexit Bill. East Antrim MLA Mr Dickson said there were major issues arising from the lack of an Executive.

“Ordinarily, the Assembly would be deeply engaged in scrutinising the impact of this legislation, and for local Ministers to be engaging with their counterparts across the UK. But that is another casualty of our prolonged and self-destructive political impasse. We are left with no plan or strategy on Brexit, while by contrast, the Scottish and Welsh First Ministers are collaborating on their response, and the respective Assemblies are engaged on the issue.

“In Parliament, with the exception of Lady Hermon, Northern Ireland is represented by DUP MPs who are signed up to support the government approach on Brexit and Sinn Fein MPs who refuse to take their seats.

“Some of the UK-wide matters being discussed as part of this Bill could effectively allow Government Ministers to impose new secondary legislation and for it, in turn, to take on the status of primary legislation. This has profound implications for devolution and potentially the delivery and implementation of some form of special deal for Northern Ireland.

“Yet, this process is happening with Northern Ireland having no effective voice to stand up for its interests, at a time when that voice is arguably more essential than ever.”

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