The focus now needs to be on protecting Northern Ireland from the worst parts of Brexit, Alliance Leader Naomi Long MLA has said.
Mrs Long was speaking as the UK prepared to leave the EU today (Friday), moving into the transition period in which the future relationship between the two is decided.
“Our departure from the EU is a matter of profound regret and one which I believe history will judge to be a significant mistake. I firmly believe Northern Ireland’s best future, and that of the UK as a whole, is at the heart of the EU. However, Brexit is now happening and so the focus must be on protecting Northern Ireland from the worst impacts,” said the Alliance Leader.
“There is no good or sensible Brexit. As we enter the transition period, with talks between the UK and EU due to begin on the future relationship, it is about damage limitation for Northern Ireland. In particular, there is considerable scepticism that a comprehensive trade deal with the EU can be reached by the end of this year, creating further uncertainty and another unnecessary cliff-edge in our relationship with the EU.
“The majority of people in NI rejected Brexit in 2016 and I as an MEP, NI MPs and the Assembly all voted against this Withdrawal Agreement, as we recognise that it creates friction and barriers to trade, justice cooperation, and freedom to live and work across Europe. The future relationship is now crucial to ensure that we do not end up without, as promised, a foot in both camps, but instead the worst of both worlds.”