Belfast Telegraph

Brexit Poll: Should Northern Ireland have referendum on staying in Customs Union? If so, how would you vote?

By Michael Sheils McNamee

A Conservative MEP has sparked debate with the suggestion a referendum should be held on Northern Ireland remaining in the Customs Union.

Speaking before the European Parliament's constitutional affairs committee on Tuesday, Charles Tannock - who campaigned for the UK to remain in the European Union - said people in the province should be given a choice.

He said a referendum would be the only way to "solve this democratically" and he had been "rubbished on Twitter" by the DUP when he initially suggested the Irish border would present an issue.

A report from Queen's University experts was also presented to the committee, and warned Brexit poses deep risks to the Good Friday Agreement.

The report focused on cross-border elements of the agreement, and that "flexibility and compromise" was needed on all sides to ensure its conservation.

Reacting to Mr Tannock, SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said there was "no need for another referendum" and the wishes of the Northern Irish public had been expressed in the Brexit vote.

Northern Ireland voted by a margin of 56% to 44% to remain in the EU.

"The SDLP has consistently told the British Prime Minister that Northern Ireland should not leave the Single Market and Customs Union after Brexit," Mr Eastwood said.

"The people of the North spoke very loudly and very clearly during the EU Referendum affirming that we wanted to remain full members of the European Union."

DUP MEP Diane Dodds rejected the suggestion by Mr Tannock there should be a referendum on Northern Ireland's future position in the EU.

"These comments demonstrate a stark disregard for Northern Ireland’s certain place in an independent United Kingdom after Brexit," she said.

"I have news for Mr Tannock. We had a referendum. The democratic result of that poll was binding on all regions. We will leave the European Union as one nation. That means Northern Ireland will leave the Single Market and Customs Union alongside Great Britain."

We want to know what you think.

Should there be a referendum on Northern Ireland staying in the Customs Union?

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