Unionist politicians in Northern Ireland have been challenged in the European Parliament on their attitude towards a hard border and upholding the Good Friday Agreement. In a speech on a motion on the State of Play on Brexit Negotiations Independent MEP Marian Harkin challenged views expressed by Northern Ireland MEPs when she said that they had to be clear about precisely what they wanted.
Speaking in the European Parliament in Strasbourg Marian Harkin said “Today’s resolution offers hope, where it speaks of Northern Ireland staying in some form in the internal market and customs union. I believe that the majority of people in Northern Ireland, who voted to remain, would support today’s proposal and it would fit with Teresa Mays proposal to exclude any physical infrastructure at the border.
Those who represent Northern Ireland must be clear: do they want a hardening of the border, will they accept a harder border or do they support a unique solution for Northern Ireland which will avoid a hardening of the border, maintain the common travel area, and uphold the Good Friday Agreement?”.
In the context of damage to the Irish economy, she said “Researchers from Leuven University have said that in the event of a hard Brexit, the UK would lose half a million jobs while the EU would loose 1.2 million with consequent loss of GDP. Crucially they say these losses will not be evenly distributed with Ireland being the worst hit, suffering a relatively greater loss in both jobs and GDP than even the UK itself. This must be factored into any final outcome of the negotiations”.