Any “de facto” border between Northern Ireland and Great Britain as a consequence of Brexit risks breaking the Belfast Agreement, UUP MEP Jim Nicholson has warned.
Speaking after the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier visited Dublin, Mr Nicholson said: “He does not have a mandate to negotiate Northern Ireland issues with politicians in the Republic. Dublin does not speak for Northern Ireland, and neither does Brussels.”
READ MORE FROM THE NEWS LETTER ON MICHEL BARNIER’S DUBLIN VISIT HERE...
Warning against any “special status” for Northern Ireland, the Ulster Unionist MEP said: “Brussels needs to be fully aware of the fact that the Belfast Agreement cannot be cherry-picked.
“While nationalist politicians and others may be keen to use Brexit as an excuse to try to break up the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland will remain a full, integral part of the United Kingdom for as long as its people wish to remain so. This also means that any ‘special status’ which puts a de facto border between Northern Ireland and Great Britain would risk breaking the agreement.”
TUV leader Jim Allister, meanwhile, said that by stressing that “customs controls were part of EU border management”, Mr Barnier had made it clear “any hard border will be the result of EU insistence, not British insistence”.
He added: “Those who want to ameliorate the impact of the border should recognise that it is the Republic, not Northern Ireland, which needs ‘special status’ within the EU.”
“Under Brexit it is the Republic that is going to feel the draught, especially if the EU cuts off its nose to spite its face by insisting on tariffs.”