The Prime Minister needs to pay particular attention to the damage his Brexit deal is going to have on Northern Ireland, Alliance MP Stephen Farry has said.
Dr Farry was speaking during his maiden speech in the House of Commons today (Friday), before voting against Boris Johnson’s Withdrawal Agreement Bill. The Bill passed by 124 votes, now moving to the next stage in Parliament.
“The House of Commons consciously voted today to make the UK worse off economically. MPs were aware of what they were doing, which is an incredible situation to be in. The EU represents perhaps the single greatest example of economic integration anywhere in the world, and we are walking away from that,” said Dr Farry.
“Northern Ireland only works based on sharing and inter-dependence. Sadly, we remain a divided society, with lots of ambiguities. The Good Friday Agreement balanced all those different challenges through a unique set of relationships. That involves the north-south relationship and the east-west relationship.
“If we do not see a soft Brexit that involves staying within a customs union and single market, Northern Ireland will be confronted with some form of border and a degree of friction. Any perception of a border creates the feeling of winners and losers, which has the potential to be incredibly damaging.
“The deal negotiated by Theresa May was a better attempt at a soft landing than the current deal. There are more challenges from the Boris Johnson deal, creating a more problematic situation down the Irish Sea than was originally anticipated. While some degree of checks down the Irish Sea can be managed, what has been proposed will be challenging for our economy. So rather than Northern Ireland having a foot in both camps, we risk becoming peripheral.
“Despite coming from different perspectives, there is some common ground across all the parties from Northern Ireland. Together, we speak with an authority to try and mitigate the impact of that proposed boundary. The Prime Minister needs to pay particular attention to the needs of Northern Ireland and the damaging implications now set to emerge.”