Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Karen Bradley has said a no-deal Brexit could put the union at risk.
In a New Year Message, printed by the Sun newspaper, the Conservative MP praised Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal as she warned of the dangers of a no-deal exit from the European Union.
“The greatest task of our times is to ensure an orderly exit from the European Union that honours the commitments we have given to people in Northern Ireland,” she wrote. “The Government’s plan does that.”
The Northern Ireland Secretary continued: “For Northern Ireland the deal ensures unrestricted access for NI goods and services to its largest market, Great Britain. Northern Ireland remains an integral part of the single UK customs territory. We have been very clear that there will be no divergence in the future between GB and NI. The economic integrity of the UK will be maintained.”
On the prospect of a no-deal Brexit, she said: “The alternatives to our plan are no Brexit or a no deal Brexit. No Brexit would be a betrayal of over 17 million voters and would take us back to square one.
“No deal would disrupt the UK as a whole but would be felt even more keenly in Northern Ireland.
“I fear that could also risk undermining consent for the political settlement in Northern Ireland, including for the Union itself. That is not a risk I want to take.”
She added: “I appreciate that these are uncertain times. Yet by pulling together, and by backing the Prime Minister, I believe that we can look to the future with confidence and optimism – and that 2019 can be the year when we set the course for a Northern Ireland that truly works for everyone.”