Thursday 27 October 2016

May fails to ease North's exit fears

Claire Williamson

Published 19/10/2016 | 02:30

British Prime Minister Theresa May. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
British Prime Minister Theresa May. Photo: AFP/Getty Images

British Prime Minister Theresa May has failed to offer any fresh commitments to the Northern Ireland Executive over the looming Brexit.

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She was responding to a letter from the First and Deputy First Ministers, in which they sought assurances over the impact of leaving the EU.

Ms May insisted the future of the Irish Border post-Brexit was a priority for the entire UK, not just Northern Ireland. She also pledged to take full account of the region's specific interests in the negotiations with Europe.

But her letter did not include any pledges around specific concerns raised by Arlene Foster and Martin McGuinness.

"I am committed to full engagement with the Northern Ireland Executive on the UK's exit from the EU, and will take full account of the specific interests of the people of Northern Ireland in order to get the best possible deal for all parts of our United Kingdom," Ms May wrote.

She highlighted five areas, including the treatment of the agri-food sector, the Border and the energy market.

Ms May added: "The UK government, the Northern Ireland Executive and the Irish Government have all been clear that we wish to see the continuance of the free movement of people and goods across the island of Ireland and the maintenance of the Common Travel Area across the whole of the UK and Ireland, which has served us well."

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood called for the Executive to abandon its "weak position" on Brexit. "Four months on from the referendum, we are now left with two empty letters and no answers," he said.

Irish Independent

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