Foster urges '˜sensible' Brexit as PM visits Irish border

DUP leader Arlene Foster has said she wants to see a 'sensible exit' from the EU, as the prime minister makes her first visit to the Irish border today since the Brexit referendum.

Thursday, 19th July 2018, 4:07 pm
Updated Thursday, 19th July 2018, 4:33 pm

Theresa May had been criticised for not hearing first-hand from locals living on what is to become the UK’s only land border with the EU.

But Mrs Foster said the two-day visit to the Province will allow the PM to “speak with people who live, work and travel across the much talked about Irish border on a daily basis”.

She added: “I am delighted to welcome the Prime Minister to Northern Ireland in particular Fermanagh and South Tyrone.

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“She will hear first hand examples of how people see both challenges and opportunities for their sectors as we leave the European Union.”

The border remains a key sticking point in Brexit negotiations, amid a dispute on how to maintain free flow of movement across the 310-mile frontier between NI and the Irish Republic.

Mrs May will meet business representatives on the Northern Ireland side of the border.

The DUP leader added: “For our part, we want to see a sensible exit from the European Union which works for Northern Ireland, the United Kingdom and our nearest neighbours in the Republic of Ireland.

“That must mean that our national Parliament takes back control of our laws, borders and money and that there are no new internal barriers created inside the United Kingdom.”

Mrs Foster also urged the Government to take action to ensure decisions are taken in the absence of devolution.

Northern Ireland has been without a functioning Executive since the power-sharing institutions collapsed in January 2017.

“The Prime Minister will hear from local voices urging the Government to make decisions about governance in Northern Ireland,” Mrs Foster said.

“Whilst I want to see all parties entering an Assembly and Executive with nothing but their mandate, we must end the limbo if Sinn Fein continues its boycott.

“Decisions about schools, hospitals and infrastructure must be made. This week has seen encouraging reports about employment in Northern Ireland. When our economy is growing, we, as a country, should be investing for the next generation.

“This is the ideal time to have a local Executive. In its absence, the Secretary of State must move to ensure decisions are made.”

Tomorrow, Mrs May will deliver a speech in Belfast focusing on how her vision of Brexit, outlined in last week’s government white paper, will impact Northern Ireland and the border.

She will also meet young people in the city and speak to them about their vision for the Province’s future.