Fundamental rethink on Brexit required, stresses Farry

Any extension of the Brexit deadline must be used for a “fundamental rethink” on the entire situation, leading to a People’s Vote, Alliance Brexit spokesperson Stephen Farry MLA has said.

EU leaders granted a six-month extension to Article 50 until October 31, meaning the UK does not have to leave without a deal this week. The UK must hold a European election in May or leave on June 1 without a deal.

“An extension of the Brexit deadline is a better option that crashing out without a deal. Any no deal would be a complete disaster for the UK, and an absolute catastrophe for Northern Ireland,” said Dr Farry.

“But this additional time must be used for a fundamental rethink on what is happening with Brexit. We must always be mindful of what is best for people, the business community and civic society in Northern Ireland, and listen to their views, concerns and expertise.

“The EU is rightly stressing the Withdrawal Agreement, and crucially the backstop, remains the bottom line and cannot be reopened. So the only alternatives are for the UK Parliament to work a softer version of Brexit, which would still have its own challenges and contradictions, or to finally hold a People’s Vote to fundamentally reconsider Brexit.

“The window of opportunity to hold a fresh referendum is narrow, but it is achievable and preparations need to begin shortly. Forthcoming European elections will be an opportunity for the electorate to further put pressure on a divided Government and Parliament to put this to the people.

“By contrast, there is a real danger this further time will be used for more time-wasting and the pursuit of unicorns around either removing the backstop or the utter nonsense of the Malthouse Compromise.”