Long says any Brexit negotiations must reflect desire of local remain voters

Alliance Deputy Leader Naomi Long has said any negotiations around the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union must reflect the desire of most people in Northern Ireland and Scotland to remain within the EU.

East Belfast MLA Mrs Long was speaking during an Assembly debate secured by Alliance on the Brexit vote, asking the Executive how it will respond to the consequences of a withdrawal.

“While Alliance regrets the result, as democrats we respect the outcome of the referendum. We are not here to refight the referendum but instead are seeking assurance the negotiations both within the UK, and between the UK and EU, will reflect the fact most people in Northern Ireland and Scotland want a very different relationship with the EU than do England and Wales.

“We already have differential governance settlements for different regions of the UK, providing a basis for tailoring our regional relationships with the EU, particularly given the special circumstances of Northern Ireland.

“The Executive now has a duty to provide a clear plan of action and to create some certainty for local businesses, community and voluntary organisations, and inward investors, who face uncertainty with respect to trading conditions and future EU funding arrangements. That certainty is certainly not coming from Westminster, which has descended into political turmoil.

“There is also a need to reassure EU migrants and indeed those from further afield, who are feeling vulnerable about their future and in some cases have faced increased hostility in recent days. We must ensure in the wake of an often divisive and poisonous debate around migration, they are not just safe, but know they are valued and respected, and we are grateful for the contribution they continue to make economically and culturally to our community.”

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