Belfast Telegraph

Boris Johnson's Brexit plan shows 'blatant disregard for people and businesses in Northern Ireland' say party leaders in joint letter

(Left to right) Green Party leader Clare Bailey, Sinn Fein vice-president Michelle O’Neill, SDLP leader Colum Eastwood and Alliance deputy leader Stephen Farry (Rebecca Black/PA)
(Left to right) Green Party leader Clare Bailey, Sinn Fein vice-president Michelle O’Neill, SDLP leader Colum Eastwood and Alliance deputy leader Stephen Farry (Rebecca Black/PA)

The leaders of Northern Ireland's Remain supporting parties have signed a joint letter rejecting Prime Minister Boris Johnson's new Brexit proposals.

A letter to the Times on Saturday said that the PM's proposals "demonstrate blatant disregard for people and businesses in Northern Ireland".

It was jointly signed by Sinn Fein vice-President Michelle O'Neill, SDLP leader Colum Eastwood, Alliance leader Naomi Long and Green Party leader Clare Bailey.

The letter comes after Mr Johnson unveiled his plan for the Northern Ireland border in an attempt to break the Brexit stalemate and reach a deal with the EU before the October 31 deadline.

"The proposals fail the two simple commitments made by the UK government at the beginning of this negotiation: to avoid any hardening of the border on the island of Ireland, and to protect the ethos and provisions of the Good Friday Agreement," the letter continued.

"Any understanding of the history of Northern Ireland would suggest that asking the Northern Ireland Assembly to make a decision with such significant undertones serves only to exacerbate the tensions in our peace process already exposed by Brexit.

"It will fundamentally strain those core relationships that underpin peace in Northern Ireland and inject permanent instability into an already fragile assembly, as well into business and the wider community."

The Prime Minister's plans would see Northern Ireland apply EU rules on goods, but stay in a customs territory with the UK.

This would create a regulatory barrier for goods crossing the Irish Sea and create a customs border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, but Mr Johnson has insisted there would be no need for checks or infrastructure at the frontier.

Mr Johnson's plan also gives Stormont the power to decide whether Northern Ireland remains aligned with EU regulations post-Brexit. But the 17-page document does not detail what happens if devolution is suspended.

While the proposals have been warmly received by the DUP it has also been rejected by the UUP and TUV.

The European Commission has said EU member states had agreed the proposals “do not provide a basis for concluding an agreement”.

A spokesman said discussions between the two sides would not take place this weekend and instead the UK would be given “another opportunity to present its proposals in detail” on Monday.

Belfast Telegraph Digital

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph