Naomi Long: Power-drunk DUP loves the uber-British Brexit plaudits
A united Ireland would not solve the inherent problems a no-deal Brexit would create for Northern Ireland, Alliance leader Naomi Long has said.
Mrs Long said that while the discord around the Brexit negotiations has amplified calls for a border poll, she warned that Irish unity would not mitigate against the economic impact of the UK leaving the EU without a deal.
Speaking to the News Letter, the East Belfast MLA also launched a broadside at the DUP, accusing the party of inflicting a “major act of self-harm” on the union in their pursuit of a hard Brexit.
Alliance has traditionally been neutral on the Irish border question. Mrs Long said she believes the people of NI are “stronger together, both within these islands and also within Europe”.
She added that to suggest a united Ireland would resolve the economic difficulties brought about by a no-deal Brexit is “nonsense”.
“If you remove the border tomorrow and Ireland is united, we would still be impacted hugely by Brexit as the UK and Irish economies are so interlinked. The economy in Ireland will be negatively affected if the UK economy does not perform well and vice versa. So I don’t believe the two things are linked in that one will automatically resolve the other,” Mrs Long said.
However, she felt that the two issues are very much linked in the minds of voters who sit in the middle ground of the political spectrum.
Pointing to a number of recent opinion polls, the Alliance leader said: “It is clear that no-deal Brexit would lead to more people being undecided about the future of the union than a Brexit with a deal, or no Brexit at all.
“People who previously would have described themselves as unionist have shifted to a position where they are undecided or open to considering a united Ireland.”
Attacking the DUP’s approach to Brexit, Mrs Long said the party’s actions “are not doing any good for the union”.
She added: “I suspect in Westminster the DUP enjoy being lauded by uber British nationalists, people who are actually English nationalists. But they have to come home and face the people who elected them and are now desperately concerned about the future of NI and its future within the union.
“If I was a DUP MP and I saw the Ulster Farmers’ Union or business leaders coming out and challenging the party on Brexit, I would be asking if we had got slightly drunk on power in the tearooms at Westminster and lost sight of who our core constituents actually are.”