Farry criticises Prime Minister over Brexit plans

Alliance Deputy Leader Stephen Farry MLA has heavily criticised the Prime Minister’s plans for the UK to leave the European single market, saying it is “severe” for the UK as a whole and “a catastrophe” for Northern Ireland.

He was speaking after Theresa May said the UK “cannot possibly” remain within the EU. She also confirmed the Government would work to maintain the common travel area between the UK and Republic of Ireland.

Dr Farry once again said it was vital special arrangements were put in place for Northern Ireland following any potential Brexit.

“Today’s speech is the most reckless and self-defeating plan from a UK Prime Minister in decades. While at long last, the UK Government have indicated their preferred direction of travel, many of those objectives are either unrealistic or destructive.

“We have a Government now openly opting to reduce the potential of its economy. The notion of a global Britain is a contradiction in terms, especially in the context of separating the existing integrated economy offered by the EU and our nearest and largest trading partner, plus erecting barriers to the movement of people.

“Often there is a false argument made there is a choice between the UK optimising its trading within the EU and opening up new trade agreements with other parts of the world. As the recent Canadian-EU trade agreement shows, both are mutually compatible.

“While the implications of this roadmap will be severe for the UK as whole, they will be catastrophic for Northern Ireland. In particular, any departure from the customs union and the single market will necessitate a formal border either across the island of Ireland or down the Irish Sea. Barriers will be erected in terms of either the east-west or north-south relationships which are recognised and empowered under the Good Friday Agreement. There will be far-reaching political and constitutional implications.

“However, a one-size-fits-all Brexit is just not practical. There are too many factors and circumstances particular to Northern Ireland. Yet, these have not yet been recognised and respected by the UK Government. It is essential Northern Ireland has a strong and cohesive government that can articulate the case for special status for this region. We face a potential tragedy in that a prolonged absence of good governance due to political instability denies Northern Ireland the opportunity to secure its future.”

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