Ulster Unionist Leader, Robin Swann MLA, has called on the Prime Minister to put plans in place for the extension of Article 50 rather than risk the future of the Union for the sake of meeting a deadline.
Robin Swann MLA said:
“We fully recognise the concerns of the business community over the prospect of a no-deal Brexit. We don`t want a no-deal Brexit either. We will continue to meet with business, agri and environmental representatives to hear directly of those concerns and the specific issues affecting their members. Those meetings continued today as we met the Ulster Farmers` Union, Retail NI and Ulster Wildlife.
“For the Ulster Unionist Party both the Withdrawal Agreement and a no deal Brexit are unpalatable and unacceptable. As someone described it to me, after two years of talking about Brexit, the current Withdrawal Agreement seemed to provide some light at the end of the tunnel to some, but they just don`t know if it`s a train coming at them. That`s not much of a choice.
“The Ulster Unionist Party is taking a long term view of this reflecting on both constitutional and business concerns. We do not believe that this Withdrawal Agreement is as good as it gets. And if the price to pay for it continues to be a border up the Irish Sea, we will continue to oppose it and tell the Prime Minister that the UK Government needs to go back to the negotiating table. If the Prime Minister’s worry is simply that time is running out, then it would be better to put plans in place for the extension of Article 50 rather than risk the future of the Union for the sake of meeting a deadline.
“A no deal Brexit is in no-one`s interests and the Withdrawal Agreement is certainly not in the long term interests of the United Kingdom with the backstop hanging over us like a dark cloud. The President of France is already trying to blackmail the UK over fishing rights threatening the imposition of the backstop unless he gets what he wants. The business community are looking for certainty and we want certainty too, but unfortunately we believe that a deal based on the current Withdrawal Agreement will only lead to further instability in the future.”