Belfast Telegraph

'No chance' NI and Scotland are going to remain part of the EU, insists Foster

By Adrian Rutherford

First Minister Arlene Foster has said there is no chance of Northern Ireland and Scotland remaining part of the European Union.

Mrs Foster said "the whole of the UK" would be leaving in the wake of last month's Brexit vote.

Despite an overall victory for the Leave campaign, the majority of voters in both Northern Ireland and Scotland opted for Remain.

It led to suggestions from Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon that her country could stay in the UK and the EU, while the rest of the UK leaves the bloc.

But Mrs Foster rejected this, saying: "The very basic fundamental is that we are leaving the European Union."

She told the BBC's Sunday Politics programme: "The reality is that we are part of the United Kingdom as a member state. That (EU) member state has decided by a referendum of all of its people to leave the EU.

"It doesn't mean that we are leaving Europe, it means that we're leaving the institutions of the European Union.

"My job, along with (Deputy First Minister) Martin McGuinness is now to get the best deal possible for all of the people of Northern Ireland, that's what I'm determined to do."

Mr McGuinness said the wishes of the people of Northern Ireland, where 56% voted to stay in the EU, "must be respected" by the Government.

He said Prime Minister Theresa May's comments after meeting the Scottish First Minister were "significant".

"Theresa May, in the aftermath of her meeting with Nicola Sturgeon in Scotland, indicated that she wouldn't trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty unless all parts of what she would describe as the United Kingdom are satisfied. Well, we are not satisfied," he told the BBC.

"And if that effectively hands a veto to Scotland and to us in the North, then we will use it and I think I can deliver a vote in the Assembly which rejects any attempt to drag us, against our will, out of Europe."

Meanwhile, the leader of the Republic's chief Opposition party said he hoped Brexit will move Ireland closer to reunification.

Micheal Martin said a "reunification referendum" should be called if it becomes clear a majority want to see an end to Irish partition over the UK decision to pull out of the EU.

"The Remain vote may show people the need to rethink current arrangements," he said.

"I hope it moves us towards majority support for unification, and if it does we should trigger a reunification referendum."

The Fianna Fáil leader also said the DUP's backing is not essential for the establishment of 'post-Brexit' dialogue in Ireland.

He made his remarks delivering the annual John Hume lecture at the MacGill Summer School in Glenties, Co Donegal.

Mr Martin said in light of Brexit, the Irish parliament should convene a "national dialogue" or "civil dialogue" involving workers, business organisations, non-governmental organisations and community groupings.

He said the body would be different from the so-called 'All Island' forum, which was shot down by the Mrs Foster.

"That was a mistake, that was wrong," he said.

Significantly, Mr Martin said the body could go ahead without the support of the DUP.

Belfast Telegraph


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