EC proposal an '˜attack on integrity of the UK'

Ulster Unionist councillor Alderman Derek Hussey says the European Commission proposals regarding their Draft Withdrawal Agreement are an attack on the constitutional integrity of the United Kingdom.

Thursday, 1st March 2018, 9:12 am
Updated Thursday, 1st March 2018, 9:19 am
A truck passes a Brexit billboard in Jonesborough, Co. Armagh, on the northern side of the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, as Prime Minister Theresa May has said keeping the common travel area between the UK and Republic of Ireland will be a priority in EU divorce talks. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday January 17, 2017. See PA story POLITICS Brexit Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire

And he says the idea can only be a non-starter for all unionists.

Alderman Hussey, the UUP leader on Derry City and Strabane District Council said under the draft plans Northern Ireland would be forced to accept laws without democratic input and

“I welcome the fact that Prime Minister Theresa May has said she will reject the proposals,” he said.

“Proposals emanating from unelected European Union officials generally, but from Barnier and Verhofstadt in particular, show a despicable ignorance of the Belfast Agreement, disregard for the principle of consent and disrespect towards the constitutional integrity of the United Kingdom.

“There is a clear departure from a text agreed in December 2017. These proposals are tantamount to annexing Northern Ireland to the European Union economically and politically away from the rest of the United Kingdom.

“Keeping Northern Ireland within an EU customs territory and essentially part of the European single market, with the rest of the United Kingdom outside, would mean whole swathes of our laws and regulations would not be determined by elected MPs at Westminster, or even in Stormont, but at the European Council where we will no longer have a seat and in the European Parliament where the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland will no longer have MEPs.

“It is neither constitutionally viable or acceptable that we would have one part of the United Kingdom under the full jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice with the rest of our United Kingdom outside.

“There are those in Brussels who think that Dublin speaks for Northern Ireland. Even the Irish Government are under the illusion that they represent the best interests of Northern Ireland whereas the fact is, having Dublin - or anyone else - making decisions for Northern Ireland without United Kingdom democratic representation would have devastating implications for the constitutional integrity of our country, and would represent a clear breach of the Belfast Agreement.”

Mr Hussey said the border issue was being used by those who had other agendas.

“Clearly Varadkar et al, with European collusion, are hellbent on using Brexit towards an Irish unity project and such a prospect can only be a non-starter for all Unionists.

“Brussels and Dublin have repeated time and again throughout this process the need to protect the Belfast Agreement ‘in all its parts’. Nothing could be further from the truth as it is they who are refusing to accept what the Agreement actually says to the point of showing utter contempt of the Belfast Agreement’s original core precepts.

“Indeed, this on-going ‘sabre rattling’ from the Irish Government and EU officials has the potential to destroy relationships that have been improving over recent decades and further divide what is already a polarised society.

“Whilst such persistent shenanigans may assist Fine Gael’s poll ratings in the Republic in advance of a potential election and aid Barnier and Verhofstadt’s ambitions for a federal ‘United States of Europe’, I remain bemused that they do so at the risk the sacrificing what has been achieved so far for short term political gain.”

“Let us not forget that this text is a draft proposal from the European Commission via their unelected officials. Undoubtedly there are serious challenges therein but the fact remains all sides need a sensible deal that works for all parties. Trusting that cool heads will prevail, I welcome recent commitments from the Prime Minister that this language will be rejected and that the constitutional integrity of the United Kingdom will be upheld.”