PM Rejects Plan To Keep NI In Customs Union

Prime Minister Theresa May has rejected the European Union's (EU) plan to keep Northern Ireland in the customs union.

Speaking in the House of Commons she said that "no UK prime minister could ever agree" to the EU's draft legal agreement.

EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier said the "backstop" option is not intended to "provoke" the UK.

SDLP Brexit Spokesperson Claire Hanna said it was time for "hard choices".

She said: "The EU was right to publish his draft withdrawal agreement and it was right to flesh out one of the options agreed with the UK. The SDLP welcomes the EU's cast iron commitment to protecting the Good Friday Agreement and preventing a border in Ireland.

"Despite some utterances on the airwaves from some, there is nothing surprising in this draft withdrawal agreement today – this is essentially what was agreed by the UK and the EU in December.

"While I know many will feel the need to go kicking and screaming over the contents of this document, but to those Brexiteers, I say it's time they faced up to reality. It's time for calm heads and for hard choices.

"The UK Government and the Brexiteers have a choice, they either go for alignment with the Customs Union and the Single Market to protect these islands – or they support the EU on the common regulatory area. It is just fantastical to pretend that there’s some other mystery option – there isn't."

Ulster Unionist leader, Robin Swann MLA, has unequivocally stated that the European Commission's Draft Withdrawal Agreement is a complete non-starter for Unionists.
News Image
Ulster Unionist Party Leader, Robin Swann MLA, said: "The European Commission's Draft Withdrawal Agreement, claiming that "the territory of Northern Ireland, excluding the territorial waters of the United Kingdom (the "territory of Northern Ireland"),shall be considered to be part of the customs territory of the Union", is nothing short of a move by the EU to annex Northern Ireland. It is a complete non-starter for Unionists. No British Government could accept this. It demonstrates complete and utter contempt for Northern Ireland's constitutional position and also for the Belfast Agreement.

"What's the next step for the 'joint committee' – demanding that Northern Ireland join the Euro?

"The EU and the Irish Government are playing a very dangerous game over Northern Ireland. It is absolutely clear that Leo Varadkar, supported by Michel Barnier, Guy Verhofstadt and other unelected officials in the EU are seeking to exploit Brexit in pursuit of Irish unity. Those who voted to stay in the EU, didn't vote to leave the UK and those who voted to leave the EU didn't vote to leave the UK either.

"Depending on what day of the week it is, the Irish Government and EU spokespeople, claim that they want to defend the Belfast Agreement, yet on another day they quite happily seek to undermine one of its core principles upon which relative peace was brought to Northern Ireland – the principle of consent. Their claims of defending the Belfast Agreement are shown to be nothing more than hollow words. They demonstrate no respect for the Belfast Agreement, and no respect for unionists. Just like Sinn Fein, they cherry pick what they want and ignore the uncomfortable reality of the rest because it doesn't suit their agenda."


Related Northern Ireland News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

10 April 2013
Cameron Hails Good Friday Agreement
Prime Minister David Cameron has praised the Good Friday Agreement to mark the 15th anniversary of the power-sharing deal. "I have no doubt that the Agreement was a truly momentous event in the history of Northern Ireland," he said.
16 May 2006
Children's park named in honour of Mo Mowlam
A children's park within the grounds of the Stormont estate has today been named after former Northern Ireland Secretary of State, Mo Mowlam. Ms Mowlam, was one of the most popular and respected NI Secretary's during the her time in office between 1997 and 1999. She died in August last year after a lengthy illness at the age of 55.
21 October 2003
NI elections to take place in November
New assembly elections for Northern Ireland are set to take place on November 26, the Government confirmed today. The announcement came following intensive negotiations between Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble and Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams as well as both the British and the Irish governments.
19 February 2018
Northern Ireland To Play Israel At Windsor Park
Northern Ireland are to play against Israel in a friendly international on Tuesday, 11 September. The match will take place at Windsor Park at 7.45pm. The game comes three days after Northern Ireland play Bosnia and Herzegovina in the UEFA Nations League at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park.
27 May 2008
UTV Goes Global With ITN Source Deal
Northern Ireland images of past and present are to go global. ITN Source has signed an exclusive worldwide sales representation deal with established broadcaster Ulster Television to represent its news and regional programming content.
16 February 2016
Villiers In US To Give Update On Fresh Start Agreement
The Secretary of State Theresa Villiers is to update members of the US Administration and senior figures within the Irish American community on the Fresh Start Agreement reached in November 2015.
08 August 2014
Good Friday Agreement Under Threat - Adams
The Good Friday Agreement is facing its greatest ever challenge, according to Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams. Mr Adams made the comments in a keynote statement today, when he said the "political process faces its greatest challenge since the Good Friday Agreement negotiations in 1998.
27 September 2012
PSNI Officers Invited To Apply For Top Gardaí Jobs
For the first time PSNI officers will be invited by Garda management to apply for permanent senior posts in the Republic. The move, which comes about as a consequence of the Good Friday Agreement, follows the signing of new regulations during the summer by Justice Minister Alan Shatter.
04 May 2012
Bairbre de Brún To Step Down From European Parliament
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD has announced that the party's MEP representing the north, Bairbre de Brún, has submitted her resignation to the European Parliament. Mr Adams said: "Bairbre de Brún has submitted her resignation as MEP to the European Parliament.
31 March 2009
Police Attracts Record Numbers Of Catholic Recruits
Catholic composition within Northern Ireland's police force now stands at just over 26%, the highest level since the introduction of temporary 50:50 recruitment provisions in 2001. The NIO Policing Minister Paul Goggins revealed the details today in a written ministerial statement to the House of Commons in London.
04 June 2008
Don't 'Say No!' Urges Paisley
The newly elected DUP Leader and the Prime Minister have held crisis talks aimed at avoiding a political crisis in Northern Ireland.
21 March 2008
Change Assembly Voting: Mallon
Ten years on from the signing of the Belfast Agreement, one of the main contributors to its construction has said he would radically change the voting system at Stormont.
30 March 2005
All criminality and paramilitarism must cease – Murphy
Secretary of State Paul Murphy has reaffirmed the need for all criminal and paramilitary activity to end before the peace process can get back on track.
05 January 2004
Paisley Jnr hits out at Ahern's comments
North Antrim DUP MLA, Ian Paisley Jnr has today accused the Taoiseach Bertie Ahern of being “out of touch with reality”. Mr Paisley was reacting to comments made by the Irish prime minister during a television interview on the BBC on Sunday.
06 August 2003
DUP and SDLP at loggerheads over GFA
The DUP and SDLP were at loggerheads today after East Belfast MP Peter Robinson claimed the SDLP was ignoring unionists by continuing to support the Good Friday Agreement.