We need answers from PM before making up mind on Europe: UUP

Ulster Unionist delegation pictured outside Number 10, Downing Street before their meeting with the Prime Minister. David Cameron MP.

Left to right are Lord Rogan; Jim Nicholson MEP; Mike Nesbitt MLA; Tom Elliott MP; Lord Empey
Ulster Unionist delegation pictured outside Number 10, Downing Street before their meeting with the Prime Minister. David Cameron MP. Left to right are Lord Rogan; Jim Nicholson MEP; Mike Nesbitt MLA; Tom Elliott MP; Lord Empey

The Ulster Unionists have posed a series of questions to the Prime Minister, saying that answers are needed before the party commits to a firm position on the EU.

On Thursday morning a five-strong UUP delegation visited Downing Street to express concerns surrounding the referendum, which will be held in Northern Ireland just weeks after the Province’s Assembly elections.

Whilst the UUP remains undecided, the DUP, TUV and UKIP have all come out in favour of quitting the EU.

The party stated that it will consider its stance during a meeting of the UUP ruling executive on March 5.

In a statement following the meeting with David Cameron, Mike Nesbitt, UUP leader and MLA for Strangford, said: “With four months to go until the referendum, we understand the Prime Minister was planning a campaign based on that timeline. We impressed upon him the timeline for Northern Ireland is different and more urgent.

“He accepted our point and we expect him in Northern Ireland very soon to address some of the points that weigh heavily on the people of Northern Ireland.

“We asked him to address five key areas. First is the money, not just for farmers but also the voluntary and community sector, industry and our seats of learning.”

The News Letter had also asked No10 whether it has back-up plans for farmers in the event of a UK withdrawal from the EU, but no official response was received which addressed the question.

The UUP also raised issues about what effect which lowering Corporation Tax would have on the Westminster block grant to the Province; queries about welfare, immigration and asylum; and raised the matter of the “existential threat” posed to the UK by the possibility that Scotland may express the wish to remain in the EU even if the remainder of the UK backs an exit.

The UUP also raised the issue of the land border with the Republic of Ireland, and said that it was “a matter he is giving urgent consideration but he also makes the point that the Brexit supporters also need to offer clarity on that point”.

It did not reveal the exact nature or wording of questions which had been asked.

Mr Nesbitt said that the Prime Minister “has promised to answer these questions on his forthcoming visit”, which it said was set to happen sometime between now and March 5.