Farry welcomes Barnier Northern Ireland comments

Alliance Brexit spokesperson Stephen Farry MLA has welcomed comments made by the EU Chief Negotiator making the case for Northern Ireland to remain in the customs union and Single Market after Brexit.

Speaking at the Centre for European Reform conference in London today, Michel Barnier said Northern Ireland already had special rules concerning its relationship with the Republic, which would not “endanger the integrity of the UK”.

Dr Farry it underpinned an approach where Northern Ireland could have a special deal after any Brexit.

“These are some significant comments from Michel Barnier. First, it is clear as it is the UK leaving the EU, primary responsibility lies with it to provide an outcome protecting the Good Friday Agreement and enabling the Northern Ireland economy. The best approach is the UK opts to remain within both the Customs Union and Single Market. Anything short of that will bring some degree of friction in relationships.

“Second, it really important to separate politics from economics. Northern Ireland can remain politically and constitutionally a full part of the UK in line with the principle of consent. But if necessary, it can and should have a separate economic approach in light of its particular circumstances.

“The key points stressed today is this would be consistent with existing differences in terms of a number of economic matters between Northern Ireland and Great Britain. These include energy and agri-food. And it is also worth noting that all main local parties, including both the DUP and UUP, continue to argue for a different Corporation Tax regime.

“Therefore, a special deal around Brexit does not take Northern Ireland into new territory. For Alliance, this should amount to Northern Ireland, as a region of the UK, remaining a full participant within the EU Single Market.”

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