Alliance MLAs Stewart Dickson and Andrew Muir say they remain proud Europeans, as they addressed the profound worry as the UK’s divorce from the EU moves to completion.
Speaking during a special debate in the Assembly on Wednesday, Mr Dickson said the Alliance Party would work to build bridges, not borders in the aftermath of the devastating impact of Brexit on Northern Ireland.
He added: “There is no such things as a good Brexit. Built on outdated notions of a nation state, designed to put up walls and cause friction it only demotes the UK in terms of diplomatic influence, leaving us as a more isolated medium sized economy in a world of large trading blocs.
“It’s extremely sad that it didn’t have to be this way. We could have, for example, left the political structures, but stayed in the single market and/or customs union. Instead we have a mess, of red tale, barriers and bureaucracy for businesses and individuals.
“With regards to the Protocol, it is to be welcomed that we have grace periods and increasing clarity, but on-going flexibilities and support will be vital. Alliance will continue work to build bridges not borders, and towards the closest relationship possible with the EU, and mitigate as far as possible the socio-economic damage that Brexit threatens.
Andrew Muir added: “Whilst the exit from the EU on the basis of an agreed deal is vastly better than a chaotic No Deal crash out, it remains the fact that no matter how it’s constructed Brexit is bad for Northern Ireland, bad for people, bad for business, bad for the Environment.
“It is shocking to hear the DUP try to justify their stance today, when it is due to their thirst for greater power, alongside the ERG, that pushed the idea of the UK in the Single Market and Customs Union firmly off the agenda.
“They now must accept that it is their support for Brexit that leaves people and businesses facing the many negative consequences and triggering serious discussions around the constitutional future of both Scotland and Northern Ireland.”