The UUP’s member of the European Parliament has hit out at suggestions that Brexit poses a threat to the peace process.
Jim Nicholson, one of three MEPs in the Province (the others being Sinn Fein and DUP members), was reacting to repeated claims by Sinn Fein that the Province’s stability is under threat from the UK’s pending exit from the EU.
On Thursday Martina Anderson (Sinn Fein’s MEP) had said Brexit “could undermine the Good Friday Agreement and the huge progress which has been made over the last two decades of the peace process”.
And on Friday, a statement from Sinn Fein said it posed “stark dangers” to the “wellbeing of all of Ireland”.
Jim Nicholson said: “Some – including Sinn Fein - are trying to say the Belfast Agreement would be undermined by Brexit. This is simply not the case. The Belfast Agreement cannot be cherry-picked.
“It enshrined the principle of consent, which means that Northern Ireland is an integral part of the United Kingdom for as long as its people want it to remain so. Furthermore, in January 2017 the UK Supreme Court confirmed that the Belfast Agreement related to Northern Ireland’s place in the UK, not its place in the EU.
“Therefore measures that would introduce an internal UK border between Northern Ireland and Great Britain would actually be in breach of the Agreement.
“Furthermore, it is very dangerous when public representatives suggest Brexit could lead to violence. Sinn Fein representatives would do well to think before making such claims. This type of dangerous rhetoric risks emboldening those who wish to plunge our country back in to dark times.
“I will continue to engage with European leaders in Brussels and Strasbourg to ensure Northern Ireland’s voice is heard in Brexit discussions, and to push for a Brexit deal that is achievable, workable and does not compromise Northern Ireland’s position as an integral part of the United Kingdom.”