Government should announce that NI will remain in single market

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During the first oral questions to the Department for Exiting the European Union, I called on the Secretary of State David Davis, to “commit to exploring ways Northern Ireland can stay in the single market in the eventuality that Britain leaves”.

I said that Northern Ireland’s membership of the European single market is vital for the economy throughout the island of Ireland. As with so much else with Brexit, Northern Ireland’s unique circumstances mean we have even more to lose from exit from the single market than Britain.

There is grave concern that Northern Ireland’s interests will be a casualty of the UK’s exit negotiations with Brussels, and this uncertainty is already causing problems for NI businesses and agriculture.

I said that the British government could help Northern Ireland side-step much of the hardship of Brexit if they simply announced now that Northern Ireland will remain in the single market regardless of the outcome for England, Scotland and Wales.

Margaret Ritchie, SDLP MP for South Down