Border poll ruled out, confirms Lord Empey
The Government has ruled out any moves towards a border poll, a senior peer has confirmed.
House of Lords deputy chief whip the Earl of Courtown said the criteria to trigger a border poll — a tangible increase in support for a united Ireland — had not been met.
But he also said that London will continue its regular meetings with the Dublin Government during Brexit negotiations with the EU.
The views came in a series of answers which were sent to former Ulster Unionist leader Lord Empey, who said the Brexit talks and a border poll should not be linked.
“I hope that politicians will not allow themselves to be sidetracked by a toxic Sinn Fein agenda,” the former acting First Minister added.
“From the moment the referendum result was announced, Sinn Fein was calling for a border poll. Although initially cool on the idea, Taoiseach Enda Kenny moved his position to argue that the matter of a border poll should be on the table during talks on Brexit,” Lord Empey added.
“I believe that the Brexit talks and a border poll are not connected in any way, and if we are to make a success of Brexit talks, linking them with a border poll is a recipe for disaster.”
Lord Empey went on: “Talk of a border poll would sour any trade and free movement discussions and unionists would not accept this as part of the Brexit process.
“I hope that now the Government has set out its position, politicians here and in Dublin will concentrate on getting the best deal with our European partners on trade, free movement and avoid, if possible, a hard border.
“These are the things that matter most to people — the protection of trade and jobs.”