A UK government pledge that Brexit will create “no new barriers” to business and trade with the United Kingdom, has been welcomed by Jim Allister.
The TUV leader had written to Prime Minister Theresa May, stressing the need to ensure “no special arrangements which have the effect of moving the border to the Irish Sea” are created when the UK leaves the EU.
A reply from the Department for Exiting the European Union stated: “Our guiding principle must be to ensure that – as we leave the EU – no new barriers to living and doing business within our own Union are created.”
Mr Allister said he welcomed the government’s undertaking.
“This principle must be delivered without equivocation or fudge. Northern Ireland’s leaving must be no less emphatic and manifest than that of the rest of the Kingdom,” he said.
In his letter, Mr Allister set out a number of concerns. He wrote: “No one with Northern Ireland’s interests at heart, and in particular no unionist, should suggest or contemplate the foolish notion of a unique arrangement for this part of the Kingdom which enables free movement of goods and labour on the island of Ireland, but not across the whole of the UK.
“The inescapable consequence of such would be to push the border back to the Irish Sea, which would be destructive of the Union.”
He added: “Thus in representing Northern Ireland’s interests in the upcoming negotiations I urge you to withstand any proposal which sets Northern Ireland apart in this way. Whatever rules govern movement of goods and labour they must be common throughout the UK, otherwise the effective frontier with the EU shifts. This must not be allowed to happen.
“Thus, I trust that when you said in your recent letter to the First Ministers “we wish to see the continuance of the free movement of people and goods across the island of Ireland” that this would be exclusively in the context of equal provision for the whole UK, rather than a separate arrangement for Northern Ireland.”