Ulster Unionist leader Robin Swann has said it is “time to nail the lies” spun about unionists who voted remain in the EU referendum in 2016.
The North Antrim MLA has insisted it is “a downright lie” to claim or imply that unionists who voted remain voted to leave the UK or support a backstop.
“There have been a lot of misconceptions spread about unionists who voted remain during the referendum. We have even seen the Irish government, the leader of Sinn Fein in Northern Ireland and various commentators claim to know the minds of unionists who voted remain,” he said. “It is a downright lie to claim or imply that unionists who voted to remain in the Brexit referendum voted to leave the UK or support a backstop that puts a border up the Irish Sea. They are as committed unionists today as they were before June 2016. They are democrats who respect the outcome of a UK-wide referendum and they want to see better relationships across these islands in the years ahead.
“What does frustrate them is the Irish government, Sinn Fein and others claiming to speak on their behalf and misrepresenting how they voted in the referendum. It indicates a complete failure of nationalism to understand unionists. Rather than talk down to unionists they should start listening.”
Mr Swann said many unionists are appalled at the way some nationalists have used the uncertainty of Brexit “to exploit fears and destabilise relationships in Northern Ireland and beyond”, and insisted that “Sinn Fein will never speak on behalf of unionists on Europe or anything else.”