Jim Nicholson: NI not bargaining chip for Brexit deal

Jim Nicholson said Michel Barnier's latest backstop proposals were unconvincing
Jim Nicholson said Michel Barnier's latest backstop proposals were unconvincing

Ulster Unionist MEP Jim Nicholson has said Northern Ireland’s constitutional position “is not a bargaining chip for getting a Brexit deal over the line”.

He added that the European Commission’s latest attempts to “de-dramatise” its proposals for a backstop agreement on the Irish border were “unconvincing”.

Speaking ahead of the informal meeting of EU heads of government in Salzburg yesterday, Mr Nicholson called on the UK government to “uphold the commitments it has already made” in protecting the constitutional integrity of the UK.

“Ever since the commission put pen to paper in March with its draft withdrawal treaty, with its version of a backstop that would see Northern Ireland cut adrift from the rest of the United Kingdom, Michel Barnier has been on a mission of ‘de-dramatisation’”, Mr Nicholson added.

“Mr Barnier’s latest attempts to ‘de-dramatise’ the situation centre around trying to emphasise that any checks between Northern Ireland and Great Britain would not be intrusive, would build on checks that already take place and could be easily managed.

“Not only is that case unconvincing, it also fails to address the primary problem with his interpretation of the backstop, which is Northern Ireland being taken out of the UK’s democratic decision-making process, forced to accept rules it has no say in making (while Dublin does), and essentially ruled by committee in perpetuity.”