Northern Ireland needs to be protected against Brexit, says Armstrong

Northern Ireland needs to be protected against Brexit, Alliance MLA Kellie Armstrong has said.

Strangford MLA Ms Armstrong was speaking during an Assembly debate on the UK Government’s Withdrawal Bill, in which the Assembly rejecting giving consent to the plan to leave the EU at the end of the month.

“Alliance is a pro-European party and we believe Northern Ireland should be part of the EU, with there not being any such thing as a good or sensible Brexit,” said Ms Armstrong.

“That said, we accept Brexit is now inevitable in just under a fortnight, so now we need to focus on taking the rough edges off the Brexit deal – standing up and protecting Northern Ireland. Many problems remain with the proposed Withdrawal Bill.

“There is uncertainty a trade deal with the EU can be reached by the end of the year, with the nature of our future relationship with the EU itself being unclear. The Bill has a significant impact on devolved powers and competencies, with extensive use of the so-called Henry VIII powers granted to UK Government Ministers, allowing them to bypass accountability and scrutiny.

“It is disappointing the UK Government will likely proceed with this Bill, despite today’s clear rejection from the Assembly and a pervious rejection from the Scottish Parliament. Rather than what could have been a foot in both camps for Northern Ireland, unless protections are put in place, we may well end up being marginal in both the UK and EU arrangements.”